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Children's books 'ousted by DVDs'

19 October 09 23:53 GMT

Half of children spend more time in front of a TV or computer screen than they do reading, a survey suggests.

A third of parents agree that bookshelves in their homes are being taken over by DVDs and computer games.

The poll of 3,090 children and parents for reading charity Booktrust suggests reading has become more popular - and 96% of children say they enjoy it.

Despite this, one in 20 homes has fewer than 10 books, and those with boys tend to have fewer than those with girls.

The research also suggested parents and carers with boys were less likely to read with them than they were with girls.

'DVD shelf'

According to the survey, some 67% of mothers of four to five-year-olds claim to be the principal reader, compared with 17% of fathers, although many more fathers were said to be reading than in last year's survey.

The vast majority of parents said they often read for pleasure with their children, with 54% saying the last time was only yesterday.

But just one in three read with their children every day.

And one in 30 children said they could not remember the last time they read with a carer or parent.

However, 57% of parents and carers agreed that their child now spends more time playing video or computer games and watching DVDs than reading books.

This peaks at age 11 or 12, where 70% of parents and carers say their children spend more time in front of screens.

Again, parents of boys are much more likely to agree this is true than those of girls.

And some 34% of British parents and carers say that bookshelves in their homes are increasingly becoming filled with DVDs and computer games, rather than books.

Among these parents, some 64% say this is particularly the case in their child's bedroom.

Overall, only 40% of family homes tend to have more books than DVDs.

The average family home has 75 children's books, while 13% of homes have more than 100.

However, households with female children have 10 more books than families with male children.

'Inspiration'

Lower income households, those earning less than £10,000 a year, have the fewest books overall.

In a bid to address this, Booktrust is sending two million free books out to schoolchildren across the UK through two free book programmes, Booktime and Booked Up.

England's schools minister, Diana Johnson, said parents who read to their children could inspire a lifetime's love of reading.

Head of Booktrust Viv Bird says: "Any time children spend reading for pleasure - either with a parent or carer or by themselves - is wonderful and life-enriching."

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