DCMS blog

The benefits of family reading in and out of lockdown

Dr Carina Spaulding

by

Dr Carina Spaulding

Research & Evaluation Manager, The Reading Agency

As a charity dedicated to working towards a world where everyone is reading their way to a better life, we at The Reading Agency have been keenly interested in the ways lockdown has affected our relationship with books and reading. We partnered with Beano Brain Omnibus to survey over 10,000 7-11-year-olds across the UK to learn more about the ways children are reading during lockdown.(1) Our key findings centred around the value of reading during this period and the importance of family influences.

Firstly, we found that children are continuing to read in large numbers during lockdown (89%), with 37% reading more than usual. Children reported that reading during lockdown has helped them feel relaxed (40%) and happy (35%), providing an important distraction during this period of change and uncertainty.

The Reading Agency

Image: Justin Sutcliffe for The Reading Agency

Reading as a family

We also learnt that many children also viewed reading as a family activity, with a quarter telling us they like reading books with Mum and Dad (26%) and the same percentage sharing that their whole family loves reading (26%). Additionally, during the period when many schools were closed due to lockdown, children relied heavily on parents’ and other family members’ recommendations as a source of finding out about books to read (39%).

Research indicates that reading together as a family has benefits for both children and parent/carers alike. For example, an analysis of parent-child reading found that children who participated in shared reading programmes had higher literacy and better behaviour and social and emotional skills than those who did not. Parents in the same programme experienced lower levels of stress and depression and felt more confidence in their parenting skills than those who didn’t participate. (2)

Reading together

Image: Marcia Chandra

Reading Together Day and the Summer Reading Challenge

Dedicated family time continues to be valued by children, with a fifth of respondents reporting that what they’re most looking forward to after lockdown is the opportunity to spend time with grandparents or other family members. Reading Together Day, today (16 July), coordinated by The Reading Agency in collaboration with over 15 organisations across the sector, is a day of virtual events to inspire reading for pleasure for the whole family. With the digital Summer Reading Challenge also now available, families can share a reading adventure over the summer while preparing for school to start back in September.


1. Survey of UK 7-11-year-olds, weighted to nationally representative sample size of 11,310; Beano Brain Omnibus, 2020
2 Q-W Xie et al. (2018), Psychosocial Effects of Parent-Child Book Reading Interventions: A Meta-Analysis, Pediatrics, 141(4)