Our Statutory Storytime Campaign

Make daily storytime statutory for all primary school children

St Joseph’s Catholic Academy, Stoke-on-Trent © Nick Caro

Join our campaign to change the curriculum

There is a crisis in children’s reading: only 37% of 6-11 year olds choose to read for pleasure every day – and it’s declining every year.

Why does this matter? Because reading for pleasure is so powerful that it actually improves life chances. Children who read do better in all subjects and have a better sense of well-being.

Reading for Pleasure is more important to a child’s educational success than their parents’ socio economic status. [1]
For 10-16 year olds, the impact of reading for pleasure on progress in vocabulary, maths and spelling is four times greater than if parents have a degree.[2]
Children who read for pleasure daily, or nearly every day, are a year ahead in reading performance versus those who never do.[3]

It is vital that children, young people and all of us have access to stories which give us the knowledge, empathy and understanding we need to negotiate life. But just as importantly, we need to give children and their teachers and parents time to read.

Michael Morpurgo

Did you know that simply reading aloud to children, just for fun, is the most effective way to encourage them to read for pleasure themselves? For example, when 8-13 year olds are read to by their parents very infrequently (less than weekly), just 28% of those children choose to read daily themselves. But when 8-13 year olds are read to by their parents every day, 74% also choose to read for pleasure daily. Being regularly read to is evidently very powerful but, in fact, only 14% of 8-13s are read to by their parents every day. [4]

The Government knows reading for pleasure is important. In fact, they say nothing is more important in education than ensuring every child can read well and that the best way to do this is to instill a passion for reading for pleasure. However, the curriculum focuses on the explicit teaching of reading skills and comprehension, with little time given to fostering a love of reading for pleasure.  As a result, children often experience reading as work, not fun.

There persists a huge attainment gap between rich and poor, which will take decades to remedy, unless something changes. School data released in December 2018 and in January 2019 suggests that, at the current rate of progress, it will take 50 years to close the gap in primary school and 70 years at GCSE.[5]
If all Key Stage 2 children read for pleasure daily, 75% of them would reach the level at the end of primary school that predicts 5 or more passes at GCSE – an increase of 8%.[6]
One in 11 children don’t own a book (one in eight from disadvantaged backgrounds).[7]

The curriculum states that ‘Pupils should be taught to…develop positive attitudes to reading’. But pleasure can’t be taught; it is an outcome, not a subject. However, pleasure can be shared. This insight provides us with a simple solution to the problem: bring back storytime.

In Farshore’s ‘Stories and Choices’ study at a primary school in Stoke on Trent, children were read to, just for fun, most days over one term. Their enjoyment and motivation to read themselves increased significantly and their reading attainment improved at more than twice the expected rate.

Daily storytime is an easy and low cost solution to the crisis in reading. We’re calling on the Government to make storytime statutory, to change the curriculum to make space for reading aloud, so that all children up to the age of 11 hear a story every day, just for fun. We’ve already submitted an Early Day Motion (EDM) to Parliament, calling for a debate on this.

If you believe this is important, please take action!

You can download a letter that you can send to your MP, urging them to support the EDM. Find your MP by entering your postcode here and download the letter here.
You can sign our petition here. If we reach 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in parliament, so please share with as many people as you can.
Join the conversation online using #statutorystorytime

Being read to should be an intrinsic part of the school day, as unquestionable as a lunch break.

It’s every child’s right to be read to every day.

Our Supporters

[1] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2002
[2] Sullivan, A. and Brown, M. (2013) Social inequalities in cognitive scores at age 16: the role of reading, CLS working Paper 2013/10
[3] OECD (2010), PISA 2009 Results: Learning to Learn: Student Engagement, Strategies and Practices (Volume III)
[4] Nielsen’s Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer 2018
[5] Source: BBC Analysis of school league tables, December 2018 & January 2019
[6] Department for Education analysis 2015, in relation to Mullis, I.V.S., Martin, M.O., Foy, P., & Drucker, K.T. (2012). PIRLS 2011 international results in reading.
[7] National Literacy Trust 2017