“While 95 per cent of parents have read to their children at some point, only five per cent of those polled read to their children during the day. More than one in ten said they read every couple of weeks or less, and five per cent could not remember the last time they shared a book.”
The 97% of dads who did not read to their children claimed that they could not find time due to work commitments and being too tired. 89% of the moms polled did read to their children, but half admitted that they were distracted by cleaning, cooking, and other household chores.
Ahem. Allow me to climb onto my soapbox.
A love of reading is one of the most important gifts we can give to our children, and reading aloud when they are young is the surest way to attain that love. Children derive enormous intellectual, developmental, and emotional benefit from being read to, and it costs us nothing but time.
Jim Trelease, in his Read-Aloud Handbook, submits that there are two basic “reading facts of life”:
- Human beings are pleasure-centered.
- Reading is an accrued skill.
In other words, by carving time from our busy lives to sit with our children, allowing them to snuggle up warmly against us and captivating them with the rise and fall of our reading voices, we condition our children to find reading to be a pleasurable activity. If we fail to find time to do this, or if we do so unwillingly or distractedly, children will see reading as something to be avoided, a chore.
Since reading is an accrued skill, the more children read, the easier it gets and the more it is enjoyed. The building blocks of reading well are forged while being read to; the Commission on Reading, organized by the National Academy of Education and the National Institute of Education, found that “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”
In addition (attention fathers), the more people that read to children, the more reading styles they are exposed to, and the more they see that reading is a universal, cooperative endeavor.
It is also vital that children see adults reading to enforce the pleasure principle, although that likely happens less and less. One in four adults read no books in 2007 and the national average was a mere four.
Meanwhile, TV use last year rose to 151 hours month, or 4.5 hours daily per person.
Yet parents have no time to read to their children.