Seven thousand copies of children’s books will be made available in ‘Flybraries’ on easyJet flights this summer.
Classics including Peter Pan, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, The Wizard Of Oz, and The Railway Children will be made available on the budget airline’s UK fleet of 147 aircraft.
Children can start reading them on the flight and can download free samples of other classics to try when they land, plus a sample of former Children’s Laureate Dame Jacqueline Wilson’s latest bestseller, Wave Me Goodbye.
Books will be expected to be left on board for the next passenger to enjoy.
Dame Jacqueline is supporting the Flybrary campaign designed to promote literacy and encourage youngsters to read by selecting a range of children’s books to be stocked on board that encompass the spirit of travel and adventure.
She unveiled her selection at the official launch of the book club at Gatwick.
The holiday reading campaign comes as the airline prepares to fly 750,000 families out of UK airports on their holidays.
The initiative follows an easyJet poll of 2,000 British parents with children aged 8-12, which revealed that 83% say children are reading less in comparison to when they were younger.
The research found that children are reading an average of three books over the summer holidays, in contrast to an average of four books which their parents would have read 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 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.
Nine in ten parents said 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, more than half (57%) said it was due to an increase of availability of digital devices from a young age.
Eight in ten (80%) believe that the widespread presence of digital entertainment has had an adverse effect on literacy levels.
More than half (53%) charted the rise of ‘digital devices’ – smartphones and tablets – as a reason for the decline in children reading for pleasure on holiday.
Dame Jacqueline 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.
“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 chief executive, Carolyn McCall, added: “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.”