Few bedtime stories for some children, says survey

baby with book Young babies can enjoy looking at books and being read to

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Nearly a third of UK parents read their children a bedtime story once a week or less, a survey suggests.

And out of 2,000 parents asked, one in 10 admitted not reading to their child more than once every six months.

Nearly half said they read their child a story every day, according to the survey by YouGov for education publishers Pearson.

And out of 400 teachers asked, three-quarters said children's attention spans were shorter than in the past.

Most (94%) said children were not spending enough time reading for pleasure outside the classroom.

The parents, who had children either of primary school age or younger, said at home, their children were spending on average three times as much of their time "on screen" as they were reading traditional books.

Every day, on average, they said their children watched TV for 90 minutes, played computer games for 42 minutes and did other online activities for 28 minutes, compared to 44 minutes reading paper books.

Early reading

Literacy experts say one of the key ways of helping children to learn to read and write well is to give them a love of books.

They say the youngest children can enjoy looking at simple books, being told about what is going on or hearing the sounds of the words and rhymes and that this ultimately helps them understand the meaning of words and develop their speech and language.

Of the parents questioned, one fifth said they had waited until their child was two or older to read them their first story.

The survey, commissioned by Pearson to mark the launch of its Enjoy Reading campaign, involved 2,008 parents of two- to 11-year-olds questioned in August and 410 UK secondary school English teachers questioned in March and April.

Broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, who is supporting the campaign, said: "As parents we can encourage our children to develop a love of reading from an early age but it can be challenging when there are so many demands on all of our attention."

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