According to a British study done by CITV in connection to their new children’ show, Bookaboo, parents struggle to find time to read to their children:
“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.
Photo Credit: jinglejammer under Creative Commons
Crimson Wife says
How many hours per year do these dads who claim to be “too busy” to read spend watching sports?
My DH works very hard to support our family, and some of the jobs he’s held have required 80+ hours/week (Army officer, investment banker). But no matter how busy his schedule, he’s always made time to read to our kids. It might only be a few minutes a few times per week, but it’s important to him so he finds room in his schedule.
Stephanie - Green SAHM says
Makes me grateful for my husband. He reads to our kids regularly. It’s not that hard to take a few minutes to read a short story to younger kids, and as they get older you can take turns reading.
There is a difference between saying “97% of dads don’t read to their children” and “of dads who don’t read to their children, 97% cite….” The headline is misleading.
Ah, the word “the” changes the whole sentence. My apologies! Guess I need to read more closely, as well.
I am the primary reader in our house. I read to my kids often and I read to myself constantly. My husband rarely reads to the kids, because he can’t read very well. Ahem…he was never read to as a child. He doesn’t remember being read to AT ALL, ever. 🙁 He does make an effort to read to them whenever one of our kids brings him a book, which I greatly appreciate and encourage, but they generally bring their books to me. I try to send along the really easy ones to their dad so they can get that experience with him because I think it’s so important, not just for the kids, but for my husband as well.
We started reading to my son when he was 2 days old. We have never put him to bed without reading a book (or several) first. He is now 20 months old and he brings books to us constantly. Both my husband and I read to him equally.
We are busy people – I work 2 jobs and my husband is a full-time architecture student (one of the most time-consuming bachelor degrees you can earn) and he’s self-employed. It’s not hard to find the time to read to your kids. I admit, sometimes after I’ve read the same book 5 times, I’d like to get on with life and do something else. I remind myself in these times that there is something very valuable and very special about cuddling with your child as they learn from every word you say.
If anyone claims they don’t have the time to read to their kids, they definitely had no business procreating.