Only 32% of British children under 13 are read to daily by an adult, for pleasure, down 9% since 2012, according to the annual reading habits survey by Nielsen Book Research. The research also reveals that most parents stop reading to their child by the age of eight.
Teresa Cremin, Professor of Literacy and a leading expert on the benefits of reading for pleasure, says: “Research indicates that reading aloud to young people, without attendant work, is a key pedagogic and professional practice in fostering reading for pleasure.
“It is not an optional ‘extra’ activity, but every child’s right to hear fiction, non-fiction and poetry read aloud with passion and pleasure.
Threat to children’s wellbeing
Publisher Egmont, which co-funded the research, says the steep decline in parents reading to children is a threat to wellbeing and could have a social impact in the long term. Studies have shown that children who think positively about reading are less likely to report mental health problems and reading for pleasure has a greater impact on academic success than a parent having a degree.
Reading for pleasure can help us negotiate life
Michael Morpurgo, author of War Horse, former Children’s Laureate and Open University Honorary Graduate comments:
“It is vital that children, young people and all of us have access to stories which give us the knowledge, empathy and understanding we need to negotiate life. But just as importantly, we need to give children and their teachers and parents time to read.”
Professor Cremin continues: “Such shared experiences offer rich reading role models, create ‘books in common’ in families and in classrooms, and help build communities of readers. It is encouraging that the draft Ofsted inspection framework (2019) underscores the value of reading aloud to children, but this is not just crucial in the early years but across primary schooling and beyond.”
Find out more
Here’s 7 ways you can make reading aloud to children a magical experience
Explore The Open University’s Reading for Pleasure research