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Most young children are not read to on a daily basis.

post #1 of 166
Thread Starter 
A recent study commissioned by Reach Out and Read revealed that the majority of young children — 52 percent — are not being read to on a daily basis. That's 13 million children under 6 years old who are going to bed every night without a bedtime story — without the undivided, loving attention that comes with sharing a favorite book with their parents
Dr. Barry Zuckerman, Reach Out and Read


One of my blogging friends is discussing this at her site - here is her post, with an active discussion taking place in the comments.
How can we encourage reading aloud?
http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/200...ing-aloud.html

I'm not sure that link is working, here's another try
http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/200...ing-aloud.html

http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/ (about the third post down right now)

I thought it would be interesting to discuss as parents, and share thoughts on helping improve the numbers.

I'm a huge fan of Jim Trelease's book, The Read Aloud Handbook, which emphasizes the importance of reading with children, and the benefits and harms of reading or not reading to kids. It's one of the best books I've read as a parent.

Thanks! I love talking about reading and can't wait to hear your thoughts.
post #2 of 166
Reading is something I am very passionate about as well. My dd is 8 and we still read together and out loud. Reading before bed is just a normal routine for us. Every now and then I'll throw in a British or a country twang, and try to get her to do the same and we just have a ball. I also tutor a child in reading at her school 1x/week.
Some excuses I've heard from parents as to why they don't read to their children - They learn better from someone else.
If they are having problems, I can hire a tutor.
We don't have time.

It is just endless. I feel so bad for children who don't have that opportunity and the parents just don't realize what they are missing out on.
At my dd's school they even run a campaign to get kids to sign up for library cards for the public library. The librarian was sad to see how many children do not have library cards or even step foot in a library.

My mom had told me that she offered to help a little girl at her church w/her reading and the mother's response was "I'll think about it".

I just don't understand parents today.
post #3 of 166
My kids got read to every night and at the bus stop for years until they could be out there alone. We often share passages from the books we are reading with each other. Both my kids are gifted and both of them are avid readers.

I don't think folks realize how important this is.
post #4 of 166
I'm a devoted bookworm. I read all the time. My kids are read to all the time. BUT ... in a way I really don't see the big deal, IF those kids are receiving parental attention and stimulation by other means. Do their parents get down on the floor and play with them? Encourage their imaginations? Involve them in their everyday activities? Storytell without books? Read to them sometimes, if not every day? Give their children "undivided, loving attention" that has nothing to do with reading?

Like I said, I love books ... but I have a hard time with the notion that parents who don't are by definition deglecting a necessity. There are a lot of cultures in this world in which leisure reading is just not an element, in which children are still given rich, full upbringings.
post #5 of 166
I think it's sad, but, I do understand how it can happen. The modern/Western lifestyle is completely frenetic. I seriously don't know how most of my aquaintances have time to take a deep breath, let alone sit down for 1/2 hour and read to their kids every day.

We have regular, short reads for before bed, and i try to make that daily, but I'm ashamed to say that sometimes, the day before we return books to the library, I'll realize we've only read together one or two out of the 15 we brought home.

I must say, I'm sad that my children are missing out on what I and my siblings got from my dad--almost nightly reading of the true old children's classics. Everything from The Black Cauldron to The Pilgrim's Progress. I simply *can't* to that at this stage. Second best though is books on tape, and they got to bed every night listening to things like Charlottes Web and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
post #6 of 166
Every night (well most nights, sometimes things get too crazy) since I was pregnant with DS DH has read us a chapter of a book at bedtime. When I was pregnant we started reading the Narnia Chronicles and when we finished with those books we moved on to Philip Pullmans "His dark Materials" (where The Golden Compass is from) After DS was born DH would read as I nursed him to sleep. We plan on doing this forever.

My parents were not always there for us and were pretty selfish people but some of my best memories are of my mom reading me a chapter from novels and series of books at bed time
post #7 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1xmom View Post
Some excuses I've heard from parents as to why they don't read to their children - They learn better from someone else.
If they are having problems, I can hire a tutor.
We don't have time.

It is just endless. I feel so bad for children who don't have that opportunity and the parents just don't realize what they are missing out on.
At my dd's school they even run a campaign to get kids to sign up for library cards for the public library. The librarian was sad to see how many children do not have library cards or even step foot in a library.

My mom had told me that she offered to help a little girl at her church w/her reading and the mother's response was "I'll think about it".

I just don't understand parents today.
Parental functional illiteracy is one reason (not "excuse") that many children are not read to on a nightly basis. A parent may not feel like revealing that reason to you if they do not know you extremely well or trust you completely.

http://dic.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/628308

"In the US, 43% of the adult population is at the below or basic level for prose literacy"

So before you roll your eyes and judge the "bad parents" who don't read to their kids every night, remember that there can be reasons that are not apparent.
post #8 of 166
I remember my mom reading with me when I was little. There was nothing better than spending hours at the library, scouring the shelves of the kids section. I also had some TV-time, but Mom didn't let me sit there and stare at the screen all day -- like some parents I know.

I'm going to make it a point to read to my little one as often as possible, and I know m'loves will back me up on it. We're all bookworms.
post #9 of 166
The main reason I had children was so I could read to them.

(Okay, I'm joking. Mostly.)
post #10 of 166
Wow... I can't believe those numbers - it is really sad. My mom read to us every night. When we got older she would read books like Little Women. There was nothing I enjoyed more than snuggling up to my mom and listening to her read.

I read to my DD everyday - before bed and then throughout the day. She demands it when she is on the potty and will bring my books all the time.

We go to the library once a week for a "Toddler Time" and check out new books.

Even doing all that sometimes I feel like I should be reading even more!
post #11 of 166
I regard the fact that both my mom and dad read to me nightly (they were divorced and my dad would even call me to read from Uncle Wiggly's Fairy Tales over the phone) as the very best thing my parents did for me - the thing I am most grateful for. I am sure my love of reading exacerbated my "giftedness" in school, and is largely responsible for the knowledge I posses now. I still love to read. It enriches my life. :

I plan to do the same for my kids. From day one. Really I should get started now, because my mom even read to me in the womb. :

I agree that many parents can barely read (or are just bad at reading out loud), and that probably an equal number just won't (or truly can't) make time. I think that's so sad for all involved.
post #12 of 166
I agree that it is important, and I did/do read to pre-readers daily and aloud with my reading dd 2-3/week, but I don't think that much is necessary for others. I remember reading somewhere that having parents that read for their own recreation has a greater impact on children's read ing than if the children are read to regularly. I think occassional reading to kids is necessary but as a pp said I think their are other equally important things parents can do with their kids.
post #13 of 166

Reading Doesn't Matter

I've heard though, that reading to your kids doesn't really matter. I think this was in Freakanomics, although Freakanomics mostly cited numbers from other sources so I imagine that it's published elsewhere.

Basically though, you just need to have books in the house. Owning books is an indicator of a socio-economic status and value system that is likely to produce kids who succeed academically. It's like eating supper as a family. It's an indicator of a lifestyle and a value system. You can't beat your kids, and be an otherwise absentee parent, and then cancel the effects on your children by eating a home cooked meal together four times a week.

Our personal experience is anecdotal, but we had way more time to read to our first DD than our second. Our second was not really read to a lot as a baby or toddler... although she heard lots of language, songs, music, and we did lots of other things and went lots of places. Our second DD was a proficient reader before she turned three though, and is still a better reader now than her sister who is sixteen months older.

There's a really interesting book called "The Myth of the First Three Years" that talks about the lack of evidence supporting casual relationships for many things that supposed impact a child's early development.
post #14 of 166
Oh, reading does matter! I just finished reading Jim Trelease's wonderful "Read-Aloud Handbook" and wish I could just transcribe the whole thing here to explain why. For example, the National Commission on Reading's 1985 report, Becoming a Nation of Readers, concluded that "the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children."

Trelease also notes that the DoE's 1999 Early Childhood Longitudinal Study found that children who were read to at least three times a week were al most twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading.

The book is chock-full of great information about why reading aloud to your child is so essential--not just when they're too young to read to themselves. It also has great info on how to read aloud, how to nurture reading in your child, and a treasury of read-aloud books.

I also love How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell. She and Trelease both include great ideas for encouraging read-aloud in schools and communities.

My mom read to me every night as a child, and those are some of my most cherished memories. We read aloud to Annika and Adrian every night, and our house is chock-full of books. Recently--thanks to Trelease and Esme--I've stocked a box in the kitchen full of books, and we read at the kids' dinner time as well. (They eat early as my DH doesn't get home until almost 8.) Annika now digs eagerly through the box for her dinnertime reads, and she usually wants at least 4 more at bedtime. (Adrian's too young to do anything but yell "Boo, boo!" (meaning book).
post #15 of 166
I read at least 4 books a week, but I don't read to DD everyday. We have a bedtime story book, but it's an occasional thing. We read to her if she brings us a book, and we read her magazines that come in the mail. Our house is covered in books though. She lately is liking to read the National Geographic with us. She likes the pictures!
post #16 of 166
that's a high percentage I really do enjoy reading to my kids and between the four of them, for sure it happens at least once a day.

Now, my older two can read well by themselves but my 5 yo still enjoys laying in bed with me reading, actually my DD does as well and we are halfway thru Where the Sidewalk ends because we read a handful of poems most nights. If I'm not available, she reads to her dolls.

What I was going to say is I agree that the biggest influence might be having a lot of books in the house and the parents reading (to themselves). I love to read, always have at least one book I'm into at the moment, and I really think my kids love for reading is partly due to that. DD will grab a book and sit quietly reading it while I'm doing the same. If kids don't often see their parents enjoying a book, I think there's a lot more chance they won't see reading as a good, pleasurable thing; rather a chore (like DH tends to think, and only does so when he needs to for work or similar).
post #17 of 166
Hubby and read to our 8 mo old son every day. He may not always pay attention, but we like reading to him and interacting with him like that.
post #18 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by ginadc View Post
Trelease also notes that the DoE's 1999 Early Childhood Longitudinal Study found that children who were read to at least three times a week were al most twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading.
Let me start by saying we're avid readers in this house so I'm not against reading to children.

However, what you're citing above doesn't prove anything. Children who are read to at least 3x/week probably have a host of other household/familial factors in play. For example, if parents are reading to them 3x/day they probably are more likely to have books in the house, more time to spend with children, perhaps better nutrition and sleep patterns as a result of socio-economic status, etc.
post #19 of 166
I do think reading to kids is important, but I also think that there are other influential factors involved as well. Homes where reading to children takes place may be more likely to engage in other activities, perhaps they:

Eat more meals together
Go on family outings more often
Play games
Have different toys than non-reading families

I doubt that reading by itself is the only factor involved with literacy. It is all so intertwined it would be hard to weed out all the extraneous variables.
post #20 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by ginadc View Post
"the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children."
Hmmm. If my children learn more from reading than they do from real experience I would find that extremely depressing. Our kids learned and retained a lot more about volcanoes by visiting Mt Saint Helens than from any book we have. They learn a lot more about animals at the zoo from the books that we have too. They learn way more about stability and physics playing with blocks. Not that they don't learn from books, but I actually see hands on activities, experience and human interaction having much more impact.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ginadc View Post
Trelease also notes that the DoE's 1999 Early Childhood Longitudinal Study found that children who were read to at least three times a week were al most twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading.
Yes, it's probably true that children who come from families that read aloud do better on standardized tests. The school system and the tests are typically well suited to these children. Again though, I strongly suspect that the reading is an indicator, it's not purely causal.

I'm not opposed to reading to kids at all. I just think people consistently overestimate the causality of the relationship.

I also think we need to be prepared for the changing nature of literacy, owing mostly to technology. In 1985 and 1999 kids did not have access to multimedia resources like they do today for example. Kids considered in those reports were really from a different era.
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