The key benefits of children reading for pleasure are being overlooked by parents, claims a new study.
The Egmont UK ‘Reading Street’ report says that because parents feel they need to focus on academic success for their children, combined with an increase in kids’ screen-time, youngsters have less time today to read for fun.
The children’s publisher asked parents to prioritise the most important ten benefits of reading to younger children. The three benefits considered of least importance were social development (11 per cent), emotional development (ten per cent) and increasing self-esteem (eight per cent).
The top three benefits identified by parents were language development (64 per cent), improving imagination (51 per cent) and giving them a head-start at school (37 per cent).
Reading Street also reveals that 85 per cent believe today’s parents are less strict in saying ‘no’ to children. The main reason for this, agreed by 47 per cent of parents in the study, is the feeling of guilt at the lack of time spent with children.
Half of parents of five to seven year old kids admitted to worrying about their excessive use of screens, but only 20 per cent try to restrict it.
Alison David, Consumer Insight Director, Egmont UK, said: “It’s tempting for people to want to point the finger at one single thing when we read headlines and statistics that say that reading for pleasure is in decline – whether that’s time poor parents, target driven schooling or the rise of screen time.
"As our Reading Street research unfolds we’re starting to see that it’s a combination of all those circumstances, all of which are adding up to pressure on reading. The victim right now is a time and a place in children’s lives for the simple but essential pleasure of reading."
Rob McMenemy, Senior VP Egmont English Language & Central Europe, commented: “Over half of parents we spoke to wished they had more time for reading with their children, which is fantastically positive, but many simply didn’t feel they could prioritise it.
"In many families reading still thrives, and through Reading Street we want to find out how and why, and what it’s going to take to inspire more children to read."
Egmont UK’s Reading Street research was made by observing the reading habits of 12 families across the UK and studying over 1,000 parents.
Full details of Reading Street – Chapter One: Reading And Home are available at www.egmont.co.uk/readinglives.
Further chapterswill be published throughout 2013.
‘Reading Lives’ is Egmont’s conversation about reading and children today. Readers are encouraged to get involved using the Twitter hashtag #ReadingLives.
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