World Book Day – judgement and expectations are putting children off reading

World Book Day. Two children reading

New research on Wolrd Book Day shows that 1 in 5 kids feel judged for what they read, while a quarter are made to read things they don’t want to The sad truth is that fewer children than ever are choosing to read. So, because reading for pleasure improves life chances and World Book Day is all about children, this year we have heard from them – in their own voices. World Book Day conducted research with funding from The Mercers’ Company, and partnered with Beano Brain, to speak directly to children aged 7-14 about their feelings around reading for pleasure. The feedback is loud and clear; many of the 1,000 children we spoke to told us they feel judged and embarrassed about reading – and this quickly puts them off. If children feel shamed at an early age about their reading ability, or about their reading choices, they are less likely to read for pleasure, losing out on the benefits it brings to their well-being and educational success. Reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s future success. Children are sending a clear message that adults need to understand the barriers they face and let go of expectations and judgements around reading, giving them choice – and a chance – to grow up as enthusiastic readers. “Adults think proper reading is… non-fiction, thick books, books with only words.” World Book Day focus groups respondent, 2023 “When you get older, the excitement of it all gets taken away from you, I don’t think I’d be able to read through a whole book now like I used to.” Boy, 14, Non-Reader, Beano Brain research 2023 Children feel they have no voice or choice Lack of choice is the primary issue for children when it comes to reading for pleasure. They feel they are not being given the freedom to choose the books they want to read, with the research revealing that over a third of children say they cannot choose what they want to read at home (34%) or at school (35%). One in four children say they’re encouraged to read things they simply don’t want to, while one fifth (21%) say they can’t find anything they want to read at home, which increases to a quarter at school (25%). Many children feel confused or overwhelmed when it comes to choosing a book (23%), creating further barriers to enjoyment. Many children say they would prefer their parents to stop reading to them, because they think their parents wouldn’t approve of the book they want to read.  “I would rather read by myself  – my parents don’t enjoy the books I want to read.” World Book Day focus groups respondent, 2023 “We only have set times that we are allowed to read in school. I like reading when I’m on my own, not when I’m forced to read because it puts me off.” Girl, 11, Non-Reader, Beano Brain research 2023 READ MORE QA News: BBC:Microbit invites children to survey school playgrounds The experience of feeling judged is also impacting children right across the age group. Over one child in every 10 say they feel judged by their reading ability at school (15%) and at home (16%), while twice as many – one in five – feel judged by others on their reading choices, both at school (20%) and at home (18%). ”I didn’t tell my teacher that I didn’t like that book in case she thought it was a bit rude and told me off.” Boy, 10, Light Reader, Beano Brain Research, 2023 Replace with: “There’s really no point in reading; I was really bad in primary school, I couldn’t do anything the teacher said.” Boy, 13, Non-Reader, Beano Brain research 2023 Adults have an essential role to play The positive role that grown-ups can play in a child’s reading journey was also clearly described by the children we spoke to. Two in five children think reading is best when they feel like they’re good at it (40%) while 30% say it’s best when they feel confident and encouraged. Over a quarter of kids say they believe they would enjoy reading more if it was made more fun (30%) and there was less nagging from grown-ups (28%) to do it. Over a quarter (28%) said reading is best when they can talk about reading and books with friends and family, while 18% said being read to regularly at home would help them enjoy reading more, alongsideseeing parents read themselves for fun (17%). However, only a quarter (25%) say their parents relax by reading in the home compared to scrolling on their phone (56%), watching TV (52%) or watching their phone or tablet (40%). “Adults usually tell you to read but then they don’t read and go on their phones. My teachers and my dad do that!” Girl, 11, Non-Reader (Beano Brain research, 2023) Children know what they want and the benefits when it works When World Book Day asked children when reading is best, autonomy and control were by far the most important factors: A quarter of children also believe they would enjoy reading more if they had more freedom to read in other ways, such as graphic novels/ audiobooks (25%) Children also appreciate the opportunities reading can offer them; one in four (24%) believe that reading lets them show who they are as a person and what they like doing, over a third feel that reading for fun makes them feel calmer and say they enjoy reading in their spare time, while 30% feel that reading allows them to go to different worlds and learn about different places and things. “I like to get into my pyjamas and curl up on the sofa; it doesn’t have to be silent but it has to be calm” Girl, 11, Reader, Beano Brain research 2023 Alice Read, teacher at Buckingham Primary School, Hampton comments: “I have had a child in the classroom and they had the book that they thought they wanted me to see they were reading, and underneath that, the book

Almost half a million bookworms read for 140 Million Minutes!

Children reading for 140 million minutes for World Book Day

On Thursday 7 March 2019 (World Book Day) 489,619 children and young people from around the world took part in the never-before-attempted challenge to read for 200 Million Minutes in just 26 days as part of Achievement for All’s 200 Million Minutes Reading Challenge. In total over 140 million minutes were read in special reading assemblies, teddy bears picnics, reading events and competitions in schools, settings, libraries, community groups, businesses and organisations across the UK as well as in France, Italy, America, Canada, India and Australia! Achievement for All’s biggest ever reading challenge, which is supported by learning company, Pearson, saw thousands of schools, settings and organisations taking part as they collectively smashed the 100 million minutes read in the 2018 Challenge. Seven year-old Rose Burgess from Rolvendon read the most minutes for an individual child with Marsham Street Community Nursery in London clocking up the highest average number of minutes per child for an Early Years Setting. Wylam First School in Wylam topped the primary school leaderboard with Smith’s Wood Academy in Birmingham reading the most average minutes for a secondary school. Castle Business & Enterprise College in Walsall scooped the top prize for a special school, while Grimsby Institute and Redditch Library took the prize for a college and community group/library category, respectively. Achievement for All, the leading not-for-profit organisation that works in partnership with schools and settings to improve outcomes for all children and young people vulnerable to underachievement, hope that through this global challenge, more children will discover a love of reading. Professor Sonia Blandford, CEO at Achievement for All said: “Our biggest challenge yet saw almost half a million children engage with reading across the globe! That is a fantastic result. “It’s vital that we introduce children and young people to the habit of reading in everyday life to improve their prospects and unlock new worlds and possibilities. Picking up a book, newspaper, comic or magazine helps develop language skills, imagination, communication and self-esteem and what better way to start that than through our challenge. Thank you to all those taking part.” Sophie Thomson, Head of Primary English at Pearson said: “What a fantastic achievement for all who took part. Research shows how important it is that children read frequently and for pleasure, with studies demonstrating the positive impact on children’s vocabulary, reading scores and well-being. Reading is key to unlocking learning, and it’s fantastic to see through the 200 Million Minutes Reading Challenge so many children developing brilliant reading habits, the effects of which will last a lifetime.” The Challenge saw support from a range of organisations including: Pearson, Skoolbo, Boogie Mites, KPMG, ICAP, The Sticker Factory, Authors Aloud and Discover Centre. The 200 Million Minutes Reading Challenge will be back in 2020 where once again, schools, settings, community groups, organisations, libraries, businesses and individuals from across the world will once again attempt to smash the never-before-reached target! For further information on the 200 Million Minute Reading Challenge please visit For further information about Achievement for All visit

Have children lost their love of reading?

Rosh Pinah Primary School pupils by the Book Bus from leading bookseller, The Book People. The school was crowned the winners in the Achievement for All 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge

The number of five-16 year-olds who read books for pleasure has declined, according to recent research[1] from Childwise, so Achievement for All is calling for schools, settings, families, libraries, community groups, businesses and organisations from across the world to come together to reignite a love of reading during their 200 Million Minutes Reading Challenge. The research shows that whilst the average amount of reading per day has remained consistent year on year (0.6 hours),more than one in five (21%) children never read books or magazines for pleasure, compared to 17% last year. In addition:  Boys and girls have similar reading habits at primary age, but differences appear from the start of secondary school. Worryingly, 40% of secondary-aged boys say they never read compared to a third of girls of the same age More than a quarter of children and young people (27%) never read books in their own time, compared to 21% last year Unlike offline reading, online reading doesn’t decline with age, with teenage girls remaining the most intense online readers  Speaking about the findings, Achievement for All CEO, Sonia Blandford, said: “Literacy levels are one of the greatest drivers of social inequality in the UK today. Up to two in five children from socio-economic disadvantage leave primary school without achieving the expected standard of reading and, sadly, many of them go on to fall further behind in their schooling, lack self-confidence and face a future with significantly diminished opportunities. “It is up to us to inspire a generation of lifetime readers, to ignite a love of reading among all children and young people and keep the flame alive throughout their education and long into their lives. And that, is what our 200 Million Minutes Reading Challenge hopes to do!” On World Book Day, Achievement for All launched their biggest challenge yet as they invited children and young people across the world together to collectively attempt to read for 200 Million Minutes!! Following the huge success of the charity’s 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge in March 2018, which saw more than 420,000 children and young people collectively read for 100,019,560 minutes, Achievement for All, in association with Pearson, is doubling the target to 200 Million Minutes.  The challenge will end on Children’s Book Day, Tuesday 2nd April 2019, giving children and young people just 26 days to collectively reach this ambitious goal.  Achievement for All, the leading not-for-profit organisation that works in partnership with schools and settings to improve outcomes for all children and young people vulnerable to underachievement, hopes that through this global challenge, more children will discover a love of reading.  Lindsay Nadin, Director of Primary Learning Services at Pearson, who are providing £10,000 of books to the Challenge winners, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the 200 Million Minutes Reading Challenge this year. At Pearson we work with children, teachers, parents and literacy experts to develop books and resources that spark joy in reading and nurture lifelong readers. This challenge is a fantastic way to get all children and young people reading, and working together to reach an amazing goal.”   Prizes will be awarded to those who achieve the highest average number of reading minutes per child or young person and certificates will be available to the individuals who reach key reading targets throughout the reading challenge. For further information on the 200 Million Minute Reading Challenge and to register your place, please visit   For further information about Achievement for All visit