Scholastic the children’s book publisher has reported that Fewer children are reading books frequently for fun. The 2014 survey which included over 1,000 children ages 6 to 17 showed that only 31 percent said they read a book for fun almost daily. This is a significant decrease from 37 percent only four years ago.
Some consistent patterns were noted among the more well read children including younger children ages 6 to 11 that are read aloud to regularly and have restricted online time correlating with frequent reading. For the older children ages 12 to 17, one of the most prominent predictors of frequent reading was whether they had time to read on their own during the school day.
“The finding about reading aloud to children long after toddlerhood may come as a surprise to some parents who read books to children at bedtime when they were very young but then tapered off. Last summer, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced a new policy recommending that all parents read to their children from birth. A lot of parents assume that once kids begin to read independently, that now that is the best thing for them to do, said Maggie McGuire, the vice president for a website for parents operated by Scholastic.”
However reading aloud during elementary school seemed to be connected to a general enjoyment of reading. It was reported that 41 percent of frequent readers ages 6 to 10 were read to aloud at home with only 13 percent of infrequent readers having been read to. Of course, children who love to read are generally from households with lots of books and parents who enjoy to read. So even though parents who read to their children later in elementary school may encourage those children to become avid readers on their own, such behaviour can also result from a number of other things that goes on in those families.
“There is not yet strong research that connects reading aloud at older ages to improved reading comprehension. But some literacy experts said that when parents or teachers read aloud to children even after they can read themselves, the children can hear more complex words or stories than they might tackle themselves. “It’s this idea of marinating children in higher-level vocabulary,” said Pam Allyn, founder of LitWorld.Org.”
Although the Scholastic report found that teenagers were more likely to read frequently for their own enjoyment if they are given dedicated independent reading time at school, only 17 percent of the children surveyed reported having the time to read a book they choose at school daily. For children aged 12 to 14 year only 10 percent reported having time in class with a low 4 percent of 15 to 17 year olds reporting the same.
“Parents also see a connection. Emily Skelding, a mother of four in New Orleans and a former middle school teacher, said that her eldest son, Sumner, 15, used to devour books as a child. But now that he has no time at school to read on his own — or perhaps more significant, to choose the books he wants to read — “he stopped reading for pleasure,” Ms. Skelding said.”
Other literacy experts state that the real value of reading for children is to help develop their background knowledge for a range of topics and provide exposure to sophisticated language.