easyJet have launched a new initiative today to launch ‘Flybraries’ (flying libraries) following new research that suggests that the number of children reading for pleasure is at an all-time low.
This summer easyJet will fly 750,000 families out of UK airports on their holidays. That means it has a unique opportunity to get kids hooked on a book while they’re on the plane.
Former Children’s Laureate Dame Jacqueline Wilson, who is supporting the Flybrary campaign designed to promote literacy and encourage kids to read, has selected a range of classic children’s books to be stocked on board that encompass the spirit of travel and adventure. Dame Jacqueline unveiled her selection at the official launch of the Book Club at Gatwick Airport.
Seven thousand copies of children’s classics including Peter Pan, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, The Wizard Of Oz, and The Railway Children will be made available on easyJet’s UK fleet of 147 aircraft as the new holiday reading campaign takes flight today across European destinations for free. Kids can start reading them on the flight and then when they land download free samples of other classics to try, plus a sample of Wilson’s latest bestseller, Wave Me Goodbye, from easyjet.com/bookclub. Children will leave the books on board for the next passenger to enjoy.
Speaking at London Gatwick Airport where she launched the initiative,Dame Jacqueline Wilson, whose 106 children’s books have collectively sold over 40 million copies in the UK alone, said: “The long summer break is the ideal opportunity for children to get stuck into a great story. Books stimulate a child’s imagination and development. Reading soothes, entertains, grows vocabulary and exercises the mind and a flight is the perfect place to escape into a literary adventure. That’s why I think this campaign is such a clever match. I’ve chosen books that children might not have read, but are familiar with, maybe from film and television. I also wanted stories that would appeal equally to boys and girls.”
easyJet CEO Carolyn McCall said: “This summer easyJet will transport three quarters of a million families from UK airports to popular holiday destinations across Europe – the largest number yet due to our range of parent-friendly initiatives to make it easier for parents and kids alike. The launch of our summer kids book club is another initiative designed to make flying with us more fun and help to get kids hooked on a book at the start of the holiday season at the same time. Our in-flight lending library means young passengers can pick up a brilliant book during their flight and then return it to the seat pocket at the end of the flight for the next customer to enjoy onboard. We think it will be popular with parents and children alike.”
The initiative follows research by easyJet who polled 2,000 British parents with children aged 8 – 12, which reveals that over 8 in 10 parents (83%) say children are reading less in comparison to when they were younger. The research reveals that kids are reading an average of three books over the course of their entire summer holidays, in contrast to an average of four books which their parents would have devoured at the same age – a drop of 25% over the course of a generation.
The study found that the majority of respondents (84%) agreed that people tended to read more for pleasure 25 years ago than they do today, due to us living in a fast moving digital world with endless entertainment options. The research reveals a seismic shift in reading across generations, with the decline in the number of books being read by children today attributed to the vast choice of entertainment available to them on digital devices.
Statistics from the Department of Education show that one in five children in England cannot read well by the age of 11*. Figures from the National Foundation of Education Research show most children in England do not read on a daily basis with just over a third (37%) of 10 year-olds surveyed reported reading for pleasure every day**.
Gatwick Airport’s Head of Terminals & Passenger Services Nikki Barton said: “We are right behind this brilliant summer initiative by easyJet and were honoured to welcome Dame Jacqueline to Gatwick to launch the Book Club and sign some of her books for our younger passengers. There’s nothing like a great book, and kids heading off to the many holiday destinations served by easyJet from Gatwick this summer will certainly have plenty to keep them amused on-board.”
Of those surveyed, nine in ten parents (90%) said that they believed the breadth of electronic entertainment devices available to children has led to a decline in reading for pleasure.
Questioned on why they believe this trend has occurred, over a half (57%) said it was due to an increase of availability of digital devices from a young age.
Furthermore, of those surveyed eight in ten (80%) believe that the widespread presence of digital entertainment has had an adverse effect on literacy levels. Over half (53%) of British parents charted the rise of ‘digital devices’ (smartphones and tablets) as a reason for the decline in children reading for pleasure on holiday.