Reading for pleasure in rapid decline


Declining spending on libraries in the educational institutions and high prices of books are the major factors adversely affecting the reading habits in Children, Daily Telegraph reports. The average pupil borrows just one book a term because ‘desperate’ school libraries are so underfunded and underused. But at the same time many schools cut their library budgets to divert the same to computer and IT facilities, the newspaper stated. The study, conducted for the charity Book trust by the Institute of Public Finance, reveals 92 per cent of secondary schools and 61 per cent of primaries are failing to provide the recommended number of books for their students. Secondary-schools spent just 2.67 per head on books and primaries 8.04 -compared to the recommended 14 and 10. The figures cover novels and nonfiction books, but do not include textbooks, set texts or study guides. The research also found many libraries have made it increasingly difficult for those children who do wish to read. Half of primary schools close their libraries at break and lunchtimes, while one in 20 do not lend books to children for taking books out. In secondary schools, the study found libraries are often used for other purposes such as ‘time out’ space and a resting place for sick pupils. Book trust said effective school libraries are the best way of giving children from all backgrounds the opportunity to enjoy books. A wealth of previous research had already shown the social and academic benefits to children of reading for pleasure, it noted.