Reading with child 'highlight of the day for parents'

Image caption,
The survey found 60% of parents of children aged four to six read daily with their child for fun

Parents in England and Northern Ireland are spending more time reading to their children for pleasure, a survey for the reading scheme Booktime suggests.

The poll found parents spent an average of one hour and 26 minutes a week reading with their children in 2011, up from one hour 18 minutes in 2009.

For the majority (71%) reading with their child is one of the highlights of their day.

But the poll of over 1,000 parents found 18% felt too stressed to do so.

Two-fifths (41%) said that a child's tiredness stopped reading together being fun, while 30% cited their own tiredness as a problem.

More than a third (36%) of the 1,011 survey participants said they were too tired to spend longer reading.

Childhood memory

The research found 60% of parents and carers of children aged four to six read daily with their child for fun, getting through an average of 46 books per child per year.

While 51% said they also read daily for school or educational purposes.

The research also highlighted how parents valued being read to when they were a child, with 64% saying this was a treasured childhood memory.

The poll suggests that daily reading rates have increased rather than decreased over the generations.

Just 23% of today's parents said they were read to on a daily basis as a child, compared to the 60% who say they now read for pleasure with their child every day.

The book remains the main reading "device", with 86% of respondents saying their child prefers to be read to from a book rather than other media such as e-readers or laptops.

Teachers' views

The researchers also canvassed the opinions of 207 teachers of four to six-year-olds in England and Northern Ireland.

They found teachers saw a difference between those children who are read to at home and those who are not.

Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed (72% ) attributed developed language skills and more advanced reading levels to those children who regularly enjoyed a shared book time with parents at home.

Image caption,
For many people reading to their children is the highlight of their day

And 30% found these pupils tended to be the first to answer questions in class.

Some 98% of teachers questioned said they are either very or quite concerned that reading for pleasure does not take place often enough in some homes.

The survey, carried out by pollsters Opinion Matters, was commissioned by the publishers Pearson and the reading charity Booktrust who sponsor the Booktime programme.

This year the scheme will see 1.38 million free books given to reception-age children in England.

Viv Bird, chief executive of Booktrust, said: "It is good news that parents are spending more time reading to their children.

"But I think that parents are pretty busy people and the stress of daily life can get in the way of reading with a child. So we've got to keep reinforcing the message."

Peter Hughes, head of corporate responsibility at Pearson, said: "A passion for reading is one of the greatest gifts we can give. Good reading skills are the basic cornerstone that helps all of us progress throughout our lives.

"Books inform, educate, but also inspire. Good reading starts early."

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