59 per cent of UK adults believe libraries helped them become successful later in life

New research from bank Chase UK demonstrates the critical importance of access to libraries in childhood in determining future success as an adult.

The research, which surveyed over 2,000 UK adults (including 1,219 parents), has been published to mark the third year of Chase’s school libraries programme. The ambition of the programme is to help children and young people unlock their future potential by improving access to school libraries and books in under resourced communities throughout the U.K.

In 2024, Chase expanded its successful school libraries programme to four new areas – Liverpool, Belfast, Glasgow, Greenwich (London).

More than half of UK adults (59 per cent) believe access to libraries and books as a child played a significant role in their future career successes, while 57 per cent said that children who have access to libraries at school are more likely to have higher earning potential or increased employability.

Highlighting the crucial role libraries play in supporting children’s development and future potential, the research also found that children who read are more likely in later life to have: 

  • More rounded world views (67 per cent)
  • Improved mental health (66 per cent)
  • Ability to relax (60 per cent)

Deborah Keay, UK chief marketing officer (CMO) at Chase, said: “The research shows the positive impact reading can have on children and the vital role school libraries play in encouraging a love of reading at an early age.

“Developing early reading skills can unlock a child’s potential, improving their prospects and ultimately building pathways to future employment.

“Our programme aims to provide children with access to a range of literature and a safe space in which to enjoy it.”

Jonathan Douglas, CBE, CEO of the National Literacy Trust, said: “One in four state primary schools in the UK’s most disadvantaged communities don’t have a library.

“We know that the cost-of-living crisis is hitting hard, and that having access to a dedicated reading space and the opportunity to read for enjoyment can make all the difference to a child at primary school.

“We are delighted that Chase is continuing its support for the Libraries for Primaries campaign and supporting a further 100 schools across the UK this year.”

While 77 per cent of adults said they were regular readers growing up, 40 per cent admitted they wished they read more as a child. For those who read as a child, almost a third (30 per cent) said their favourite book allowed them to escape into another world, while 12 per cent felt that it sparked a lifelong love of reading and literature.

More than a third of adults (36 per cent) agreed that school libraries and a diverse range of books are top of the list when it comes to the most important school resources available to children.

When it comes to the top five key life skills that come from reading, parents identified these as:

  • An increased vocabulary (69 per cent)
  • Curiosity (53 per cent)
  • Creativity (49 per cent)
  • Communication (48 per cent)
  • Confidence (29 per cent)

Chase is also providing additional support to three existing regions (Edinburgh, Manchester, and Cardiff) in its school libraries programme with the resources they need to inspire a love of reading.

This year’s programme includes:

  • A total of 100 new library spaces inclusive of six brand new libraries and 94 enhanced library spaces in primary schools across the UK. This will equip a further 32,082 children in disadvantaged areas with new library spaces designed to improve their reading environment
  • Access to 40,000 new and diverse books donated by Penguin Books to inspire a love of reading
  • Equipping 193 primary school teachers with bespoke face-to-face training to support them with implementing a reading for pleasure strategy and creating powerful reading role models in the school community

In its two years since launch, Chase’s school libraries programme has seen over 107,000 children at 312 primary schools enjoy improved libraries and enhanced reading spaces. 

So far, a total of 140,400 books have either been generously donated by Penguin Books or funded by Chase giving children access to a range of new literature whilst the programme has also offered 570 teachers bespoke training modules to equip them with the skills needed to inspire a passion for reading that lasts a lifetime.

Beyond the classroom, almost 19,000 parents and carers received support and advice on how to encourage their children with reading at home.

The Chase school libraries programme is part of the Libraries for Primaries campaign founded by the National Literacy Trust and Penguin Books in 2021.

The campaign brings together cross-sector organisations to address the lack of investment in UK primary school libraries and has transformed 1,000 primary school libraries in communities throughout the UK where low literacy and poverty are having the greatest impact on children’s lives.

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