Egmont has launched a petition to bring storytime into the national curriculum

Egmont has called for daily storytime to be made a statutory part of the school curriculum for key stages one and two, following a study that has revealed that children’s comprehension of reading suffers without it.

The petition has been put forward by Munira Wilson, MP for Twickenham in an Early Day Motion on February 24th. The petition was founded on the basis of study findings that by removing regular storytime among school children, reduces their progress by half the expected rate.

The move from Egmont was announced at its annual Insights day held in London this week, where the UK publishing house went on to expand on results from its recent study held at St Joseph’s Catholic Academy, a primary school in Goldenhill, Stoke on Trent.

It discovered that regular reading and listening to stories for pleasure improves reading comprehension in children by double the expected rate.

The UK government has previously stated that ‘nothing is more important in education than ensuring every child can read well’, and that the ‘best way to achieve this is to instil a passion for reading for pleasure.’ However, to date, storytime has not been made part of the statutory curriculum.

Egmont has found that 40 per cent of six to 11 year olds currently read for pleasure almost every day, while only 25 per cent of the same age group are read to at home.

Over the study’s five month period, it found that reading comprehension increased by an average of 10.2 months, double the normal expectation in the same time frame at schools outside of the study. It found that particular progress was made by year three, where children’s comprehension increased by an average of 16 months.

Children were motivated and inspired to read independently, for pleasure, more often and to try out different authors and widen their repertoire. As a result, Egmont saw a greater level of excitement around books, magazines, and reading, while storytime was found to give both students and teachers time to relax and a better sense of wellbeing.

Reading comprehension progress was re-examined five months after the project ended. Comprehension had slowed significantly, with progress dropping to 2.6 months on average over a five month period.     

Alison David, Consumer Insight Director, Egmont Publishing and author of Help Your Child Love Reading, said: “Regular storytime is powerful. Include it in the school day and reading comprehension increases rapidly. Take it away and progress in reading comprehension decreases.”

Egmont Publishing is now calling for the government to free up the curriculum, to make space and time for daily storytime and ring-fence it by making it statutory in the primary school curriculum. Egmont is asking supporters to sign their petition, write to their MP and join the online conversation and tweet using #statutorystorytime.

David continued: “We would not dream of allowing children to go through the school day with no lunch break – it should be the same for storytime. It might seem counter-intuitive, but the data from this study is clear: by uncoupling reading from lessons, by having storytime instead of teaching literacy, reading attainment naturally improves.”

Cally Poplak, managing director, Egmont publishing, added: “The funding challenges facing the education system are well documented, as are the challenges with children’s reading. Storytime is such an easy, low cost solution to these challenges, with immensely powerful results. It’s hard to see why it would not be made statutory.”

Michael Morpurgo, the bestselling children’s author has also thrown his own weight behind the project.

He said: “It is vital that children, young people and all of us have access to stories which give us the knowledge, empathy and understanding we need to negotiate life. But just as importantly, we need to give children and their teachers and parents time to read.”