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Owning books boosts literacy and mental wellbeing

Middlesbrough Reads, the community-driven campaign led by the National Literacy Trust, gifts books to the town’s youngest residents
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Middlesbrough Reads reaches out to children in need as new research reveals that owning books boosts children’s literacy and mental wellbeing

The National Literacy Trust, the charity partnering with Middlesbrough Council, the Middlesbrough Promise and South Tees Hospitals to run Middlesbrough Reads has released new research, “Book ownership, literacy engagement and mental wellbeing” which shows that the more books a child owns, the more likely they are to do well at school and be happy with their lives.

To get books into the hands of the children who need them the most this Christmas, the charity has launched a festive book giveaway to give parents the chance to win one of 20 different titles for their child.

The National Literacy Trust’s report, which is based on a survey of 44,097 children aged 8-18 in the UK, found that:

  • Children who have 60 or more books at home are 5.5 times more likely to read above the level expected for their age than their peers who have fewer than 10 books (23% vs 4.2 %)
  • Children who read above the level expected for their age have twice as many books as those who read below the expected level (63 books vs 33 books)
  • Children who have a book of their own at home have higher levels of mental wellbeing2 than those who don’t have any books (7.3 vs. 6.8, on a scale of 1 to 10)

However, the charity warns that children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are most at risk of missing out on the educational and health benefits of book ownership:

  • 1 in 8 (12.3%) disadvantaged children in the UK don’t own a single book, compared to 1 in 11 (9%) children nationally
  • Of children who own books, those from disadvantaged backgrounds have 33% fewer books on average than their more affluent peers (40 books vs 53 books)

To address this challenge locally, Middlesbrough Reads is teaming up with Nepacs, a charity that supports the families of prisoners in the North East, to get exciting new children’s titles into the hands of the children who need them the most.

Middlesbrough Reads, which was launched in 2013, works with local partners, schools and families to get children reading and raise literacy levels in the town.

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Allison Potter, Manager of the Middlesbrough Reads campaign, said:

“Books have the power to transform lives, yet far too many children are missing out on the chance to reach their full potential simply because they don’t have a book of their own at home. This Christmas, we will be giving brand new books to hundreds of children and families who need them the most. By supporting Middlesbrough Reads, you can help disadvantaged children throughout the town fall in love with reading for a lifetime.”

Manager of the National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough Allison Potter gifts a selection of books to Jessica McKinley from local charity Nepacs

Middlesbrough Reads Pic 1

To create a mental wellbeing score, the National Literacy Trust quantified children’s survey responses to questions on life satisfaction, coping skills and self-belief on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the highest level of mental wellbeing.

About Middlesbrough Reads: The National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough, known locally as Middlesbrough Reads, works in partnership with Middlesbrough Council, the Middlesbrough Promise, to forge links in the local community and improve literacy in Middlesbrough.

About the National Literacy Trust: We are an independent charity dedicated to raising literacy levels in the UK. Our research and analysis make us the leading authority on literacy. We support schools, run projects in the poorest communities and campaign to make literacy a priority for politicians and parents.

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