According to a survey of 1,000 parents just 15 per cent have their child read aloud to them every day, despite 97 per cent seeing the importance of reading and 58 per cent saying reading is a special time for bonding.
Six in ten agree reading to their child helps them learn to read, but busy work schedules and juggling the needs of multiple children are proving to be big barriers.
The survey, commissioned by McDonald’s to mark its fifth Happy Readers campaign, also found access to free or affordable books was also a key issue.
National Literacy Trust research found that one in eight disadvantaged children in the UK don’t own a single book, with more than one in 10 parents saying they want more access to free books.
Since launching the Happy Readers campaign in 2013 McDonald’s has distributed 61 million books across the UK and will be offering a Roald Dahl book in every Happy Meal this year to help increase book ownership amongst children and encourage both children and parents to find the joy in reading.
Education secretary Damian Hinds said: “I am delighted to see that McDonald’s is working in partnership with the National Literacy Trust to provide free books to young children to improve their literacy skills.
“We know how important the early years are for a child’s development and schemes like this encourage parents and carers to read to their children which will help them with those vital early language and literacy skills.”
This year’s Happy Readers books were created with Penguin Random House Children’s and the Roald Dahl Story Company, with illustrations by Quentin Blake.
The eight books draw on Roald Dahl’s iconic and well-loved stories, each presenting a complete story focused around his incredible animal characters including Fantastic Mr Fox, Miss Spider, The Enormous Crocodile, and Muggle-Wump monkeys.
Marie Emery, head of marketing at McDonald’s, says: “This research was very enlightening and we weren’t surprised to learn that every parent values time spent reading with their children, but busy working lives, other family commitments and a lack of access to books can impact their ability to do this as regularly as they would like.
“McDonald’s is committed to helping families enjoy reading together and we hope our Happy Readers programme enables more families across the country to enjoy literary stories, especially with our tie up with the beloved British author, Roald Dahl.
“We believe in improving access to books and are proud to have distributed over 61 million books over the last five years.”
McDonald’s Happy Readers promotion launched on Wednesday, August 29 and will run for five weeks, with one book given away per Happy Meal™ until October 2.