Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Friday, 28 May 2010

Tell me a scary story


'Children 'more likely to own a mobile phone than a book'

Children as young as seven are more likely to own a mobile phone than a book, figures show, fuelling fears over a decline in reading.'

Thus the Telegraph in Cassandra mode earlier this week. It seems we are raising a nation of illiterates, at least according to the National Literacy Trust, whose latest study stridently proclaims that, 'Among children in Key Stage 2 – aged seven to 11 – 79.1 per cent had a mobile compared with 72.7 per cent who had access to books'.

Overall, in a survey of 17,000 children aged seven to sixteen, '85.5 per cent of pupils had their own mobile phone, compared with 72.6 per cent who had their own books'.

Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted the anomalous phrasing; somewhere along the line, 'access to books' has been replaced with 'their own books'; a significant difference, given the existence of public libraries.

The NLT's website announces that '80% of children who read above the expected level for their age have books of their own; while only 58% who read below their expected level have books of their own'.

Which rather begs the question how did the other 20% manage to get above their expected level with no books? Further information will have to wait until the research is published next Wednesday, but we at the Tavern are wondering whether the data-gathering exercise featured that staple of pressure groups, the loaded question.

If so, it would be opportune for the National Literacy Trust who are - quelle surprise! - launching their 'Tell me a Story' campaign next week; perhaps we'll all be scared enough to click on the big red button on their website marked 'Donations'.

3 comments:

  1. I can see another saving to be made by cutting yet another quango...

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  2. "aged seven to 11 – 79.1 per cent had a mobile compared with 72.7 per cent who had access to books'. "

    Surely all children aged 7-11 should have 'access to books' because their schools will make sure they are reading, or trying to read. It's part of the national curriculum!

    58% who read below their expected level have books of their own
    So, errm, more than half of poor readers have their own books?

    Not a good use of statistics, is it?


    w/v anthipist - sure it means something!

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  3. JuliaM, I wonder if anyone's keeping a list? Just when you think you've got 'em all...

    Mrs R, I'm wondering whether all will indeed become clear when the report is published this week - by the time the stats have travelled from the researcher via the NLT to the media, I suspect things are getting pretty garbled (if they ever made sense in the first place).

    ReplyDelete