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Last Updated: Monday, 6 September, 2004, 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK
Half of British kids 'don't read'
children reading
Many children do not read outside school

Almost half of Britain's children admit to not reading a single book outside school hours, according to research published on Monday.

The survey, commissioned by the Prince of Wales Arts & Kids Foundation, asked over 100 children aged 7 to 14 what their favourite activities were outside school. Reading a book came fourth.

The findings of the survey also appeared to suggest a failure by parents to inspire children through reading.

The majority said that they preferred to listen to their friends' stories rather than their parents, and 10% of children asked who they thought was a good storyteller said that they "didn't rate their parents at all".

Children's Laureate Michael Morpurgo, a patron of the Arts & Kids Foundation, said "It's really important that parents take time to share stories with their children.

"There's no better way, in my experience, to connect with a child."

When asked their favourite pastimes, most children said their favourite was watching television, followed by playing a computer or video game. Playing sport came in third.

It's really important that parents take time to share stories with their children
Children's Laureate Michael Morpurgo

The least popular pastimes for children were found to be writing stories and writing poems in - findings that may cause additional worries for parents, teachers and politicians concerned with child creativity.

The Art & Kids Foundation, which was founded in response to HRH the Prince of Wales' concern for child literacy, is hoping to counter this trend through their StoryQuest festival throughout October.

It is supported by numerous literary celebrities, including author Jacqueline Wilson and poet Roger McGough.

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