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There are nearly one million children in the UK who do not have a book of their own.

A recent study by the National Literacy Trust revealed that nearly one million children in the UK lack ownership of a single book in their household.

Out of the children between the ages of five and 18 who were polled, approximately 91.4% reported owning a book, while 8.6% (or one in 12) did not.

In addition, the research revealed that twice the number of children between the ages of 8 and 18 who received free meals from school did not claim ownership of a book (12.4%) compared to those who did not receive free meals (5.8%).

The disparity in owning books between children who received free school meals and those who did not has reached its highest point in ten years. According to the report, the rising costs of food and energy are putting pressure on household finances and limiting families’ ability to promote reading at home.

Earlier this year, a study by NLT revealed that 36% of households experiencing financial difficulties due to rising living costs were cutting back on purchasing books for their children.

The percentage of book ownership was higher in the eight to 18 age group (92.9%) compared to the five to eight age group (80.8%). The NLT expressed concern about the lower book ownership among younger children, as this is a critical time for developing reading skills, behaviors, and attitudes.

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In the age group of five to eight, girls had a slightly higher rate of reporting book ownership compared to boys. 83.7% of girls reported owning books, while 77.5% of boys did the same. This difference is the largest it has been in the past five years.

Children between the ages of eight and 18 who live in London have a slightly higher book ownership rate compared to other areas. Around 94.6% of kids in Greater London reported having their own book. The lowest ownership rates were seen in the north-west (91.2%) and the East Midlands (91.3%).

The report recommended that assistance for owning books should focus on younger children and those from low-income families, providing them with equal opportunities to read their own books at home as their peers.

The NLT is initiating a holiday fundraiser to provide books to children. Jonathan Douglas, the CEO of the NLT, expressed concern that nearly one million children may not have access to books to read and share with their families this Christmas season.

The NLT conducted a survey of 71,351 children through two questionnaires that were distributed to schools. One questionnaire was targeted towards children aged five to eight (equivalent to Year 1 to Year 4 or Primary 2 to Primary 5 in Scotland), while the other was designed for children aged eight to 18 (Year 4 to Year 13 or Primary 5 to Secondary 6 in Scotland). Both questionnaires had similar questions, but the one for younger children was more concise and included more visuals. Teachers were responsible for selecting which questionnaire their Year 4 students completed.

Source: theguardian.com