Not enough reading for pleasure at home


New research reveals that 98% of primary school teachers are concerned that not enough reading for pleasure is taking place at home, and that this is having an impact on the time pupils spend reading and talking about books in school.

The research, commissioned by Booktime, involved over 1,000 parents and carers along with 200 primary school teachers to explore the modern realities of children’s reading habits.

Teachers said that they could see a clear difference between those children who are read with at home and those who are not:   72% of teachers attributed developed language skills and more advanced reading levels to those children who regularly enjoy shared book time with a parent/carers in the home, 30% of teachers found that these pupils also tend to be the first to answer questions in class/first with their hand up and 23% of teachers believe that children who are read with at home are better behaved children in class.

Tiredness of a child or parent/carer was found to be the main reason for shared reading not being fun, but stress is another factor with 18% of parents and carers stating they are too stressed to enjoy reading with their child and 6% of children themselves being too stressed. 

The research also found that 33% of parents and carers say they are happy with the amount of time they are able to spend reading with their child for pleasure but a series of barriers prevents more reading time for others. Time is a major barrier with 15% of parents/carers (rising to 30% of dads) not getting home in time to read with their child.  Even when home, 9% of parents/carers (rising to 13% of dads) state that they are prevented from reading with their child as a result of further work commitments.

The 2011 research shows a 10% increase compared to 2009, with parents/carers now reading for an average of one hour and 26 minutes per week.  This equates to three days, two and a half hours each year and a mean of 12.5 minutes per day. Shared reading is a regular habit for 60% of parents/carers of four to six-year-olds who confirmed that they read with their child for pleasure on a daily basis with 51% stating that they read daily for school/education purposes.

For the vast majority of children, the book remains the main reading ‘device’ as 86% of parents say their child prefers reading using a book, though this does fall to 76% among parents of six-year-olds who are becoming more technologically aware.  The research reveals that one in four parents (24%) say they now use a digital or audio device (in addition to books) to read with their child.

When it comes to reading for pleasure, 64% of parents revealed that reading books with their own parent(s) is a treasured childhood memory.  Despite the stress and time pressures many parents now face with their own children, the Booktime research shows that daily reading rates have actually increased rather than decreased generation on generation (23% of today’s parents/carers say they were read to on a daily basis when they were growing up compared to the 60% of parents/carers who say they now read books for pleasure with their child on a daily basis). 

For the majority of parents/carers (71%), reading with their child is always or usually one of the highlights of the day.  80% of parents/carers say their child always/mostly associates book time with fun with 86% of children laughing out loud when sharing a book with an adult and 83% wanting to hear more of the story.