Why Reading in Foster Care is Vital

Foster Care Fortnight celebrated 9th May - 22nd May. This is an annual campaign created by The Fostering Network to raise the profile of fostering and show how foster care can transform lives.

When it comes to the academic abilities of a foster child, research has found that they are twice as likely to struggle at reading levels than their peers.

This could be due to the unique experiences that foster children have, and therefore child-specific support is required. 

Research by Fantuzzo and Perlman (2007) found that children living in foster care in the USA had markedly poorer reading schools than their peers and this was evident by the second grade (year 3 in the UK - age 7 to 8).

The Fantuzzo and Perlman (2007) article The unique impact of out-of-home placement and the mediating effects of child maltreatment and homelessness on early school success states the following:

“Concurrent and retrospective studies demonstrate that children with out-of-home placement experiences are also at high risk of poor academic achievement while in school, and greater risk for school drop out and unemployment. Children with out-of-home placement histories evidenced severe delays in reading and were more likely to perform below grade level in math, language and overall performance compared to their peers. Furthermore, one study found that children in out-of-home placement due to child maltreatment evidenced a long-term decline in school achievement. Other studies document that children with history of out-of-home placement were at increased risk for suspensions and expulsions, grade retention, and drop-out.”

Whilst this article is outdated, being written back in 2007, a 2017 study by The Book Trust backs this up. The study found that almost half of foster children were considered to be below average in their reading levels by their foster carers.


So what does this mean, and why is it important?

Literacy skills are fundamental to success in everything from school, to adult life and even employability.

Reading helps with so many aspects of a child’s development - their creativity, vocabulary and concentration, to name a few, can dramatically improve when a child reads. This then feeds into their academic capabilities.

Reading for pleasure is positively associated with positive reading attitudes and linked with increased:

• reading attainment and writing ability

• text comprehension and grammar

• breadth of vocabulary

• self-confidence as a reader

• general knowledge

• understanding of other cultures

• community participation

• insight into human nature and decision-making

• reading for pleasure in later life


One of the major barriers to reading found in the study by the Book Trust was that many foster children can't find books that are age appropriate for their reading level.

The progress of every foster child matters, and that is where we step in. Our subscription box Happier Every Chapter has books at all levels (from ages 4-14) - meaning that foster children can enjoy a good book regardless of their reading ability. We care because we know their future depends on it.

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