Concern that parents are stopping reading with their children too young

6 February 2014

  • Half (48%) of Brits who use technology to read say it has made them read more, with the average adult reader spending six hours a week reading.
  • However, one in five (19%) parents with children under eight admit that they read with them just once a week or less.
  • Experts warn of risk to future literacy levels as a third (33%) of parents stop reading with their kids before they are ten and a further 38% between ten and eleven.

The average British reader now spends six hours a week reading with half (48%) of the GB population who use technology, such as eBooks and Kindles, saying it has made them read more. However, whilst parents are spending an average of four hours and 37 minutes a week reading for pleasure, one in five (19%) parents with children under eight admit that they read with them less than once a week.

The new study from Quick Reads, a charity that produces short books by well-known authors for busy people and less confident readers, found that 70% of parents stop reading with their kids before they are twelve, contrary to expert advice which suggests we should continue reading with our children until they are in their mid teens.

When asked why they had stopped reading with their children, one in ten (9%) parents admitted that their children wanted to do other things and they didn’t want to argue with them, whilst 4% said it was because their child could read better than them. 85% said their child is reading well enough on their own and a third (31%) simply said their kids wanted to do other things.

The study reveals some interesting facts about reading habits:

  • One in five adults (22%) do not read for pleasure, with men reading less than women (27% compared to 17%).
  • More than a third (37%) of 18 – 24 year olds admit that they don’t read for pleasure.
  • Whilst a book remains the primary source of reading for three quarters (61%) of adults, 15% named an eReader followed by a laptop (4%), a tablet (4%) and a smartphone (3%).

Technology has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on our reading habits:

  • A third (33%) of adults say that when they read, they read for longer periods thanks to technology such as eReaders.
  • The over 65s are the highest adopters of eReaders with 19% naming this as their main way of reading compared to 12% of 18 – 24 year olds (the lowest adopters).
  • 41% of adults say that being able to look up words they didn’t know on an eReader has made reading easier whilst half (51%) say that being able to adjust the appearance of the text to suit them has also helped.
  • EReaders are also broadening the range of what we are reading with 62% saying that being able to access free electronic books has meant they have read books they would not have otherwise read

The research was commissioned as the 2014 Quick Reads titles are released. This year’s books are written by a range of leading authors including Barbara Taylor Bradford, Jeffrey Archer and Lynda La Plante.

Sue Southwood, NIACE Programme Manager said:

“Children’s success in learning is influenced more by their parents than by income level or schooling. Whilst it is great to see that parents are spending so much time reading on their own, we want them to be loud and proud about their love of reading; to share and talk about books as a natural part of family life. Support from home is vital because ultimately increased confidence in reading can have a positive impact on every other area of their school life – and beyond.”

Cathy Rentzenbrink from Quick Reads said:

“With literacy results going backwards, it’s more important than ever that we are role models for the next generation of readers. Whether it’s a lack of confidence or time which stops one in five adults from reading for pleasure, we hope that our new Galaxy® Quick Reads will help to break these barriers down.”