Presence of Books for Children in the Households of Bangladesh: A District-wise Distribution


Health policies and public health studies in Bangladesh primarily focus on physical aspects of health, thus creating a gap in the literature regarding the assessment of the emotional-social environment for children and their developmental vulnerabilities. Interactions though literacy activities, such as shared reading times between child and parents, are possible ways to address the developmental and cognitive needs of children. This study explores the district-wise presence of books for children (aged 0–4 years) in households and identifies vulnerable households by exploring the association between sociodemographic status and household book ownership. The Bangladesh Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2012–13 was used to map the spatial heterogeneity of average availability of children’s books, which revealed that ownership of age-appropriate books was clustered around divisional cities, with one exception. Around 65% of the households did not have any suitable books for children. The presence of children’s books was significantly (p < .005) associated with children’s age, mother’s age and education, financial status of the household, education of the head of the house, mother’s mobile phone ownership, and mother’s access to media (newspaper and television). Parents in high-income households and with highly educated mothers were nearly three times more likely to own children’s books. Similarly, parents in a household with the mother having a mobile phone were 42% more likely to own children’s books. The findings suggest that a household’s lack of financial capacity to purchase books, the role of public health media in promoting the mother’s awareness of the need for children’s books, and a lack of understanding of children’s cognitive developmental needs could be more effectively addressed in Bangladesh.

Reading & Writing Quarterly