Reading Gap Existing among UK Children

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. literacy / ˈlɪt ər ə si / (n) – one’s ability to read and write

    Before children start school, they take literacy tests that involve basic writing and reading activities.

  2. better-off / ˈbɛt ərˈɔf / (adj) – being in a better or more comfortable position or circumstance

    Better-off families usually enroll their children in private schools.

  3. distribute / dɪˈstrɪb yut / (v) – to give something out to people

    The organization distributed relief goods to families who suffered from the storm.

  4. curate / kyʊˈreɪt / (v) – to select, organize, and present something for other people to enjoy

    Every year, the magazine curates and publishes its list of top 10 best movies.

  5. jump on the bandwagon / dʒʌmp ɒn ðə ˈbændˌwæg ən / (idiom) – to join others in an activity or support a cause that is popular

    A lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon by wearing the current trends.


Read the text below.

A study by the National Literacy Trust, a charity that advocates children’s literacy, revealed that a reading gap exists among children in the United Kingdom.

According to the charity, over 380,000 children across the United Kingdom do not own a book. In a survey of more than 56,000 children and adolescents aged nine to 18, the charity found that over 50% of children with books enjoy reading, while only 18.4% of those without do. In addition, 22% of children who have books displayed higher reading proficiency compared to 3.6% who do not own any.

The results also showed that less privileged children were less likely to own a book than better-off children. According to National Literacy Trust Chief Executive Jonathan Douglas, books are essential to the development of children’s reading skills, and they also contribute to children’s happiness and well-being. He added that some children may find it difficult to maximize their potential simply because they do not have access to books.

To close the reading gap, the charity has distributed books to children and adolescents. This distribution is in addition to the over 340,000 books that the charity has given children in the last six years. The charity also released a book list curated by 24 authors and illustrators of children’s books to further improve children’s literacy.

Several organizations have jumped on the bandwagon and created their own campaigns to encourage more children to read. For one, UK newspaper The Sun will give out $16 million worth of books to schools that sign up for its campaign called “Books for Schools.” Registered schools must collect 3,500 tokens printed daily in the newspaper to qualify for the giveaway.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think donating books to children is enough to close the existing reading gap? Why or why not?
• Aside from donating books to children, in what other ways can the reading gap be reduced? Explain.

Discussion B

• What do you think are the effects of low literacy levels? Explain.
• What are some ways to address problems in literacy among children? Discuss.