14 March 2022 Share
Vivek Govil, Managing Director, UK Education and Education Services at Oxford University Press discusses new research showing parents tend to read the books they loved when little to their own children
Research has shown 37% of UK parents say they do not know how to find out what the latest published books are.
Analysis by Oxford University Press of a survey conducted at the end of last year, reveals two thirds of UK parents prefer to read to their children the books from their own childhood over newer titles.
63% of parents admitted they chose books they had enjoyed when younger, with almost half (47%) preferring even to re-read books, rather than look for something new.
“I can understand why parents would start here,” said Vivek Govil, Managing Director, UK Education and Education Services at Oxford University Press.
“There’s nothing wrong with reading texts that still work. But there are a lot which don’t.”
Roald Dahl was overwhelmingly named the top author of choice, with stories by Enid Blyton, Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking, and Beatrix Potter’s tales also favoured as go-to options.
“Children need to read books they can relate to,” added Govil. “Books are both a mirror and a window for readers, and there are so many books available out there which do this well for children nowadays.
“Maybe the world was always very complex but it feels like there are more challenges for children to face when they are negotiating society these days. So reading contemporary titles, while it is entertainment and skill building, is also an opportunity for parents to be able to introduce what are otherwise difficult conversations about contemporary life and create a safe space for those discussions to happen,” he said.
In total, the views of 4,000 parents across the UK, Australia, Hong Kong, and China were gathered as part of OUP’s second annual Gift of Words campaign.
Championing the role of libraries in schools, Govil said: “Having credible recommendations is vital for parents to be aware of what is available to help combat this.
“If you as a parent are perhaps nervous about introducing certain topics to a child, if you’ve got a librarian helping you to do it in a safe way, that makes it a bit easier.
“There are currently clearly gaps where parents don’t know how to find the latest books and what to read to children, and so publishers like us and also schools and school librarians have a massive role to play here because they probably have the biggest ongoing contact with children and their parents.”
“Yes you get some of the books which immerge naturally but teacher recommendation and librarian recommendations are probably the biggest driver of what parents will try to choose for their children,” he said.
Nigel Portwood, CEO of Oxford University Press, said: ‘We all recognize the importance of reading and the positive impact it can have on a child during key development years. It provides an opportunity to bond with family, while also opening people’s eyes to new worlds and ideas. It is wonderful that family favourites continue to be loved and enjoyed by parents and children alike.”
Portwood added: “However, reading is also a valuable tool for helping young people to understand current and future societal issues. It’s clear that more must be done to support parents in accessing materials for reading at home—including helping them to identify new titles that they can read alongside family favourites—to ensure that all children experience the benefits that reading has to offer.’
OUP is calling on parents to broaden the types of books they turn to at story time to prompt questions and build greater understanding of global issues.
Thanks to OUP for this blog; we responded to concerns about the implications of this during lockdown by creating our Reading Recommendations page - which is open to all parents or school staff who would like some guidance when suggesting books. Tell us a bit about the class or child, and their likes and interests and we'll give you some recommendations they may like.