New figures reveal shocking literacy trend

New research has unveiled the shocking truth about literacy and young children. A study undertaken by Ebookadabra in partnership with Censuswide has shown that one in 20 British parents with children between the ages of three and seven have reported that their child has never read a picture book.

That's about 200,000 children who never been exposed to a picture book. 

The study looks at individual areas around the UK and has discovered that Britain's UNESCO City of Literature, Norwich, is a particular literacy black spot, in addition to Brighton. 

According to the results, the 10 worst places for literacy in young people are:

1)      Brighton (13%)

2)      Norwich (12.9%) (Britain’s UNESCO City of Literature)

3)      Birmingham (9.3%)

4)      Belfast (8%)

5)      Leeds (6.5%)

6)      Glasgow (6.3%); Manchester (6.3%)

7)      –Image removed.

8)      Southampton (5.9%)

9)      Liverpool (5.6%)

10)  Bristol (5.1%)

In addition, of the families that do read picture books, the survey - which included more than 1,000 parents - reveals shows that the majority rely on books provided either by their school (65%), or books given to their children as gifts by other people (51%). Of those that did buy books for their children, almost half (49%) said that they bought them at the supermarket. 

In addition, it has transpired that although there are more than 450,000 children's picture books available in the English language, most children are only exposed to a handful of titles . 

The survey tested this by asking parents to name two picture books that their children had read, without being prompted. The results show that Julia Donaldson titles feature three times in the top 10, with The Gruffalo a clear leader scoring almost two and a half times as much as the next popular - The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The top 10 titles for this age group with author and year of publication were:

1)      The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, 1999 (250)

2)      The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, 1969 (108)

3)      Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, 2001 (70)

4)      Peppa Pig by Lauren Holowaty, 2009 (54)

5)      We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, 1989 (51)

6)      Thomas the Tank Engine by Rev. Wilbert Awdry, 1945 (42)

7)      Mr. Men or Little Miss by Roger Hargreaves, 1971 (33)

8)      Stick Man by Julia Donaldson, 2008 (30)

9)      That’s Not My… by Fiona Watt, 2000 (29)

10)  The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, 1957 (26)

When aggregated by author/publisher, Julia Donaldson tops the list again by a factor of almost four to one when compared to second place being Disney Publishing:

1)      Julia Donaldson (412)

2)      Disney (109)

3)      Eric Carle (108)

4)      Lauren Holowaty (54)

5)      Michael Rosen (51)

6)      Rev. Wilbert Awdry (42)

7)      Dr. Seuss (38)

8)      Roald Dahl (36)

9)      Fiona Watt (31)

10)  Eric Hill (26)

These findings suggest that a handful of established titles dominate children’s reading.  Of the top 10 books, the most recent was published nine years ago, seven were published over 30 years ago - and all of them are represented by major publishers. 

Commenting on the findings, Ebookadabra co-founder Tom Grayson said: “Getting kids to read is about putting the right content in front of them.  Kids are missing out on thousands of incredible new stories because the big industry players are focused on pushing hit content. Most parents don’t have the time to hunt out more diverse books. That’s why we created Ebookadabra to put a world of amazing picture books in every kid’s pocket.”