Every child should own a hundred books by the age of five, the research says so.
But book-ownership among South African children is shockingly low – 58% of households don’t own a single leisure book (SABDC, 2016) – and it has contributed to our literacy crisis as can be seen from the 2016 PRILS results where 78% of the South African Grade 4 children could not read for meaning in any language (Howie, 2017). Illiteracy carries a huge cost to the economy (Gustafsson, 2010) and reputable, worldwide studies show that improving access to books for low-income children is a low-cost, high impact way of addressing the problem.
Traditional publishing models aren’t designed to create affordable books for all. This is where Book Dash comes in: to close the book-ownership gap, we need to give away 600 million books with the help of many partner organisations.
Research about the effects of book ownership
What we do at Book Dash is big and bold, but it is also evidence-based. Research findings shape what we believe, what we do, and how we do it. Here is some of the key research that forms our backbone.
“Children who have a book of their own are 15 times more likely to read above the level expected for their age, than those who don’t own a book”
National Literacy trust, 2017: “Book ownership and reading outcomes.”
Having books in the home gives children a measurable advantage at school, equal to 3.2 more years of schooling. Books in the home are the single biggest indicator of academic success, equal to parents’ education, and more so than socio-economic status.
Evans et al, 2010: “Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations”.
Books in the home are the single biggest indicator of academic success, equal to parents’ education, and more so than socio-economic status.
McQuillan, J. 1998: “The Literacy Crisis: False Claims, Real Solutions.”
Access to books impacts positively on the reading achievement of economically disadvantaged children.
Newman, S. et al., 2000: “America’s Child Care Crisis: A Crime Prevention Tragedy”.
A home library can promote reading and math skills more than college alone can. Sikora et al, 2019: ” Scholarly culture: How books in adolescence enhance adult literacy, numeracy and technology skills in 31 societies.”
Plenty more research on why our children need more books, here.