Every child should own a hundred books by the age of five, the research says so.
Giving children access to high-quality, relevant books is associated with positive behavioural, educational, and psychological outcomes.
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 PIRLS 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.
Conventional 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)
Having books in the home gives children a measurable advantage at school, equal to 3.2 more years of schooling, even when controlled for other key factors such as income and parents’ education. (Evans et al, 2010.)
Access to books impacts positively on the reading achievement of economically disadvantaged children. (Newman, S. et al., 2000)
A home library can promote reading and maths skills more than college alone can. (Sikora et al, 2019)
Plenty more research on why our children need more books, here.