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Authors and industry figures blast new reading statistics

6th December 2011

A new study revealing that four million children do not own a book has been described as 'appalling' by authors and industry figures, who have said it is 'vital' that children have access to books and are encouraged to enjoy reading.

Author Jilly Cooper said the National Literacy Trust (NLT) statistics are 'very depressing', describing reading as a 'magical carpet to other worlds' that many children are missing out on.

She pointed to the increasing prevalence of games consoles and Mp3 players as a reason why many youngsters are shunning books, meaning they are missing out on many of the vital skills acquired through reading.

Mark Taylor, from the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals, said it is 'absolutely essential' that young people have access to books and reading.

'Children can get through a surprisingly large number of books and not all parents can afford to buy the books their children need. This is one of many reasons why our libraries are so important, particularly public and school libraries,' he added.

A spokesman from the Department for Education said that no child should miss out on the joys of reading, claiming the government's new 'synthetic phonics' system would go some way to boosting reading levels by teaching children pronunciation.

The NLT survey, published this week, revealed that the number of children who do not own a single book has tripled over the last seven years, with youngsters from poorer backgrounds less likely to possess one than those from wealthier families.

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