Survey on children and reading
The results of a survey organised by Edizioni Piemme – Il Battello a Vapore for their 30th anniversary together with BVA Doxa Kids were presented during the Salone del Libro bookfair in Turin. The survey, designed to identify engagement factors that can trigger a love of reading among young people, involved 500 children aged between 8 and 11 who had read at least 3 books in the last year, and their parents (an equal number of mothers and fathers), and produced interesting findings on the development of a passion for books among boys and girls.
The basic points to emerge were as follows:
● If children develop good independent reading skills by the age of 7, reading may become a pleasant free-time activity for boys and girls. 66% of the youngsters in the survey said they greatly enjoyed reading. Reading does not seem to be a ‘duty’, it is
not described as such, but as something that piques curiosity (57%), stimulates the imagination (54%), and is associated with adventure (47%) and discovery (46%).
● The ‘right’ book is what leads to a love of reading, a book that the youngster particularly enjoyed is the trigger (36%). Equally important is the role played by the family in suggesting or giving books as gifts (34%). A more limited but nevertheless crucial role is played in this by teachers (24%). For half of the youngsters, that ‘first enthralling book’ was the spur that led them to read other books (47%).
● Yesterday’s keen readers are the parents of today’s keen readers: more than half of the parents in the survey read frequently and 46% said reading was a hobby. Many similarities between past and present emerged in the experiences of parents and their children.
● The choice of books for children is shared and negotiated with parents: 1 out of 3 said they chose books themselves, while 2 out of 3 said sometimes they chose, sometimes their parents chose. Books can be a topic of conversation with friends: 62% said sometimes and 1 out of 3 said often.
● Introducing kids to reading is due to a large extent to the oversight of parents: 61% read books with their children when they were small, 57% bought books they thought they would like, 55% talked about the books they were reading and 51% about the
love of reading in general. Mothers are more strongly engaged in all reading activities (average involvement mothers 71%, fathers 29%), with suggestions, actual purchases and conversations about books read or suggested.
● The importance of the role played by parents is strengthened by the fact that they themselves recognise the objective benefits of reading: the most important include building vocabulary (63%) and development of language skills (55%), both mentioned by mothers. In addition the development of the imagination and creativity (62%), which is particularly strong among parents with daughters (66%). Values that reading should convey include curiosity (48%) and respect (43%).
● What do the youngsters expect from a book? First, that it lets them use their imagination and go off into imaginary worlds (56%), a stronger trait among girls. It could also help them ‘learn new things’ (47%), cited more frequently by boys, and so
identify themselves with the characters (46%). Parents too express the same perception in recalling their approach to reading during their childhood, but a sense of greater engagement emerges from their memories.
● The parents’ development from children to adult readers reflects the importance of stimulating and cultivating a love of reading in small children. Perceptions change in part among adults, when reading becomes an opportunity to relax (58%) rather than a source of curiosity (48%), a desire for discovery (48%) and a pastime (46%), although love of reading is confirmed!
The great classics are back in the bookstores and the Battello a Vapore award has reached its 20th edition
To celebrate the anniversary, the collection pays tribute to some of the books that “sparked the interest” of readers in the past, which are returning to bookstores, as from May, with new graphics to appeal to present-day readers: from the delicate touch of Pinin Carpi and his famous Cion Cion Blu, loved by every generation of children, to the timeless humour of Simone Frasca, whose Bruno lo Zozzo teaches the value of friendship; from dreams about sport and growing up in Luigi Garlando’s Da grande farò il calciatore, whose successful series Gol! and Champions are also in the Battello a Vapore catalogue, to a story of bravery in defence of the weak told in La banda della III C by the great Lia Levi, an outstanding author who also produced non-fiction historical works for youngsters; from the exciting L’ultimo lupo by the late Mino Milani, who offers a profound reflection on growing up with the lightest of touches, to the unforgettable Inkiostrik, the monster every child would like to be their school-friend, created by the inventive mind of Ursel Scheffler. This year, we are also celebrating the 20th edition of the Battello a Vapore Award, which over the years has discovered many of Italy’s most popular children’s authors and continues to do so today: Pierdomenico Baccalario, Gigliola Alvisi, Daniela Palumbo, Roberto Bratti, Roberto Morgese, Luigi Garlando, up to the winner of the 2021 award, Emilia Cinzia Perri.
A brand based on timeless stories published over the last thirty years, many of which are still fond memories for yesterday’s readers while many others will appeal to the children of the present: because good books do not age.