One in eight disadvantaged North Yorkshire children don’t own a single book

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The shocking lack of literature among disadvantaged families has been laid bare after new research revealed that one in eight children from less privileged backgrounds in parts of North Yorkshire do not possess a single book of their own.

The research carried out by the National Literary Trust is published today and has revealed the huge gulf in access to literature depending on a child’s social background.

The study looked specifically at North Yorkshire’s coastal communities, and managers from the charity have warned that children from less wealthy families are missing out on the huge benefits of reading to help shape their learning as well as mental well-being.

Project leaders behind an initiative called Our Stories, which is run by the National Literacy Trust with support from the North Yorkshire Coast Opportunity Area, is planning to distribute a fresh wave of free books to tackle the glaring divide in access.

Our Stories manager, Liz Dyer, said: “Books have the power to transform children’s reading skills, enjoyment and mental well-being.

“There are so many children in Whitby, Scarborough and Filey missing out on the chance to reach their full potential because they don’t have a book of their own at home.

“We’re really proud to be taking steps to get books into the hands of children who need them most, but it’s really important that we keep working to close the gap for good.”

During the past year, the Our Stories project has gifted more than 5,000 new books to children and young people in North Yorkshire’s coastal towns of Whitby, Scarborough and Filey.

However, the scheme’s managers want to help close the gap in book ownership and is calling on the public to make donations in the run-up to Christmas.

Research carried out across the country by the National Literacy Trust has shown that children who do own books are six times more likely to read above the level expected for their age.

The national data also revealed that children with easy access to books are nearly three times more likely to enjoy reading compared to those who do not.

The Trust lays claim to being the UK’s leading authority on literacy, and runs projects in some of the nation’s most deprived communities to help boost reading among children and young people.

The charity has now published a list of the 100 most popular titles among North Yorkshire’s coastal communities in the hope of triggering a greater interest in reading among youngsters.

Residents were asked to share their favourite children’s book in a poll carried out in classrooms and online, with more than 1,700 submissions received from entrants aged three to 78.

Some of the most popular submissions were books by authors Liz Pichon, Stephen King and Michael Morpurgo, with non-fiction titles covering animal and world facts also ranking highly.

Families can access the 100 Reads list in libraries across the area, as well as finding a printable version online.

More information about the Our Stories project as well as the 100 Reads list and how to make a donation to boost access to books for children is available at ourstories.org.uk. Library opening times can be found at northyorks.gov.uk/libraries.