More parents reading to young children for pleasure

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Parents are reading to their children more, a new poll suggests.

The survey of 1,000 parents of four-to-six-year-olds carried out by Booktime reveals that parents spend on average one hour and 26 minutes reading with their children each week, up from one hour 18 minutes in 2009.

It also found that parents’ reading to children has increased from generation to generation.
While 23 per cent of parents said they were read to on a daily basis when they were growing up, 60 per cent of parents said they read to their children every day.

Around half said that they did so for ‘school/education’ reasons but 71 per cent also said that it was one of the highlights of their day.

However, despite the fact that parents are reading more to their children, teachers fear that children are not being read to enough.

In a separate survey by the book charity of 207 primary school teacher of Year 1 and Year 2 children, nearly all of them (98 per cent) said that they were concerned that not enough children were reading for pleasure at home and more than half (54 per cent) said that they were ‘very concerned’ about this.

Teachers said that they could see a clear difference between children that are read to at home and those that are not.

Seventy-two per cent of teachers said that those children who shared books at home with their parents had developed language skills and were better at reading than their peers.

Thirty per cent of teachers said that these children were also more likely to put their hand up and answer questions in class and 23 per cent of teachers said that children who are read to at home are better behaved than other children.

The research coincides with the launch of Booktime 2011, the national free books programme, which will give free books to 1.38m Reception class children.

The books, provided for the first time by Pearson UK are Why elephant has a trunk by Claudia Lloyd and Face Painting by Monica Hughes.

Comedian and actor Lenny Henry, who launched the programme by reading to children at St George the Martyr School in Holborn, said, ‘I used to read all the Kipper books to my daughter when she was little.

‘They were brilliant, because they were so funny and if a book's funny they're wonderful to read because the job's half done.  Her favourite was that book about the mole who wants to know who did a poo on his head – The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business! Whereas mine was I Love You This Much. I loved reading with her. It was a very sad day when she told me she could finish Harry Potter by herself.’

Now in its sixth year, this year also marks the six millionth book given to a child as part of the Booktime programme.

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