Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Reading Street Report

UK Parents under pressure to prioritise academic success over emotional development and self-esteem.

London, April 12, 2013: A new report into children’s reading by leading children’s publisher, Egmont UK reveals key benefits of reading for pleasure in childhood are being over-looked by parents who feel they need to focus on academic and future career success.

The Reading Street report highlights how a change in UK parenting style, a reluctance to say ‘no’ and the rise of screen-time is squeezing reading for pleasure as children and parents are surrounded by targets, results and extra-curricular activities.

Egmont UK asked parents to prioritise the most important benefits of reading to younger children from a list of ten benefits. The three benefits considered of least importance were Social development (11%), Emotional development (10%) and Increasing self-esteem (8%). The top three benefits identified by parents were Language development (64%), Improving imagination (51%) and Giving them a head-start at school (37%).
Reading Street also reveals 85% believe today’s parents are less strict in saying ‘no’ to children. The main reason for this, agreed by 47% of parents in the study, is the feeling of guilt at the lack of time spent with children. Other reasons cited include 44% believing it’s harder to say ‘no’ when their children’s friends get/do what they want and 41% identifying that it’s less stressful for the parents.

In contrast, 23% of parents believe that this same lack of strictness does not apply to them and their children in their own lives. Parents also give different reasons for their own lack of strictness, most commonly saying it is for the sake of family harmony. 25% of parents reveal it is less stressful to just say yes and deflect from arguing. Children's use of technology was identified as a key catalyst for potential confrontation, but often parents choose to avoid conflict; 50% of parents of 5-7 year old admitted to worrying about their excessive use of screens but only 20% try to restrict it.
The Reading Street report concludes this combination of circumstances is squeezing the space for children to spend time reading for pleasure and calls for a reassessment of the value of reading for pleasure in a child’s development.

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. Despite wanting to help their children succeed, many parents we spoke to didn’t realise that reading for pleasure will bring their child the advantages they hope and strive for. We’ve also found that 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 is based on work by Egmont UK’s specialist insight team who have observed the reading habits of 12 families across the UK and conducted a supporting study of over 1,000 parents of 2-16 year olds.

Full details of Reading Street – Chapter One: Reading And Home are available at Reading Lives is Egmont’s conversation about reading and children today. Everybody interested in children’s reading can take part at the Reading Lives blog or on Twitter at #ReadingLives.

Further copies of Reading Street will be published during 2013.

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