Following the launch of our ‘Gift of Books’ campaign, with the aim of reducing book poverty amongst deprived school children in Manchester, we wanted to find out just how important the skill of reading is to the UK public.

Our research asked 2,000 Brits what was the most important thing they learnt as child and what impact learning to read has had on developing other abilities that are vital when entering the world of work.

Life Skills

It is quite clear from the results that in an age that is predominantly dominated by technology, even for youngsters, reading is still deemed as the most important thing we’ll ever learn.

74 per cent of those surveyed believe learning to read is more important than learning basic mathematics (52 per cent), how to manage finances (43 per cent), playing sport (nine per cent), and using electrical devices (seven per cent).

1. Learning how to read 74% (1488)
2. Leanring basic mathematics 52% (1065)
3. Leanring how to manage finances 43% (869)
4. Learning how to cook 29% (582)
5. Leanring how to ride a bike 14% (281)
6. Learning how to be creative 10% (209)
7. Learning how to play sports 9% (181)
8. Learning how to use electrical items 7% (139)


Developing Other Abilities

We then asked, if reading has had a positive impact on developing other abilities which are fundamental to being successful when entering our career.

It would appear that reading allows us to progress in many areas with 83 per cent stating that learning to read has had a positive impact on their communication and writing skills.

1. Communication skills 83% (1671)
2. Writing Skills 83% (1663)
3. Presentation skills 64% (1279)
4. Being Creative 59% (1190)
5. Building relationships 56% (1093)


In England, the average hourly wage of workers with the highest levels of literacy is 94 per cent higher than workers who have the lowest levels of literacy [1], suggesting that these skills really are vital when entering the world of work.

Those surveyed also believe that reading has a positive impact on the following; “overall confidence”, “having an imagination”, “everything you do in life”, “gaining knowledge of anything”, and “coping with stressful home life”.

Childhood Memories

The research also indicates that learning to read as a child is a memory that Brits hold dearest, with one in five choosing reading a bedtime story as their favourite childhood memory.

Childhood memories that Brits hold on to the most include:

1. Going on holiday 50% (999)
2. Riding a bike 29% (583)
3. Getting your first pet 26% (520)
4. Going to school 20% (411)
5. Reading your bedtime story 20% (372)
6. Playing sports 16% (324)
7. Cooking with grandparents 13% (252)
8. Getting my first library card 10% (203)
9. Going sledging 9% (188)


Other answers also included; “playing outside with friends”, “spending time with grandparents”, “cooking with the family”, “learning arts & crafts”, and “Christmas morning”.

The UKs Favourite Childhood Book

We then asked those surveyed to name their favourite childhood book, the top 10 were:

1. Famous Five
2. The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe
3. The Secret Garden
4. The BFG
5. Faraway Tree
6. The Hobbit
7. Matilda
8. Charlie and the Chocolate factory
9. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
10. Charlotte’s Web


Other popular books included, The Wind in the Willows, Black Beauty, Secret Seven, Winnie the Pooh, Railway Children, and Little Women.

Gift of Books

Although learning to read is deemed the most important thing we’ll ever do, thousands of children still do not have any books at home. Recent figures from the National Literacy Trust reveal that one in 11 children in the UK have never owned a book.

The Gift of Books Campaign aims to reduce book poverty amongst deprived school children in Manchester, where 40,000 school children live without books at home. To get involved or to find our more about this campaign, please visit here.