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Why book reading's important

29 Jul 17

Credit: Pixabay
Why book reading's important
Between 11 and 13% of our children are not reading books

So nearly 400,000 New Zealand adults are not reading books.

In an age when streaming movies, social and other media can consume a lot of our time, it's interesting that overall, 88% of adults, equivalent to around 2,804,900 New Zealanders 18 years of age or over, had read or started to read at least one book in the past 12 months.  Nearly half have read a New Zealand book, according to this survey by Horizon for the Book Council.

Those reading fewer than the overall adult average of 20 books a year, say it's because they lack time (though finding an intresting one is also a significant barrier).

It's also interesting to find printed books are still the most read (74% of adults read fiction this way).

But what of our children?

The percentage of book reads readers was similar to adults:

  • 89% of 10–17 year olds and
  • 87% of under 10 year-olds had started reading at least one book in 2016.

  • Should we be worried by the finding that 12% of adults, 11% of 10-17 year-olds and 13% of those under 10 are not reading books?

According to the Book Council, which commissioned this pathfinding survey from Horizon Research, reading for pleasure has a number of proven benefits, including improved academic performance for school-aged children and the retention of cognitive abilities in adults.

The survey found that non-readers had a six per cent lower average household income, and were half as likely as those who read for pleasure to have education qualifications above NCEA level two.

This Radio New Zealand report also covers reading skills among our children and how important they can be.

In this Stuff report, Book Council chief executive Jo Cribb said that while the number of non-readers was concerning, it was not above what her organisation expected.

"We knew the literacy figures already, so we knew we were going to get quite a strong flavour coming through of people who can't or don't read."

You're welcome to comment on these findings and the issues they raise at our Facebook page.