As a kid, I couldn’t wait for summer vacation because it meant more reading time. I was never an outdoorsy person, but I loved adventure and nothing satisfied my craving like lots of books. There was no place I couldn’t go, no one I couldn’t meet, no idea I couldn’t explore. The whole world and beyond was waiting for me in books. My library card got the biggest workout during the summer months when I didn’t have to read the boring books assigned at school (Lord of the Flies, The Scarlet Letter, Great Expectations).
But, now I see that Reading is Fundamental has released a new survey that says:
Despite research that indicates the importance of summer reading in preventing children from losing literacy skills, only 17 percent of parents say reading is a top summer priority, according to a new survey from Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and Macy’s. The survey, conducted by Harris Poll, also finds that children spend nearly three times as many hours weekly watching TV or playing video games as they do reading in the summer. More than 1,000 parents with children ages 5-11 completed the survey online in April.
This is such sad news to me. I want to scream at these parents and let them know that this is harming their children. With my kids, I was always willing to let them try new things to see what they enjoyed. Taekwondo, gymnastics, sports, music, camp, theater, whatever would give them an opportunity to try new things and ultimately understand others. Books were always a part of parenting. Along with library trips, I belonged to kids book clubs and ordering Scholastic books during the school year was always a highlight.
You can see the full survey results in an executive summary by Harris Poll, but key findings include:
- On average, parents say their child spends 17.4 hours/week watching TV or playing video games, 16.7 hours/week playing outside and only 5.9 hours/week reading.
- Parents who consider reading to be extremely or very important are twice as likely to have a child who reads every day.
- Children who were involved in a reading program last summer were up to two times more likely to read every day. Yet, over half of parents said their child did not participate in a reading program at all last summer.
- Last summer, children who read because they wanted to were twice as likely to read than children who read because they had to.
- Despite the proliferation of e-books and digital formats, 83 percent of parents said their child preferred print books for summer reading, compared to 7 percent preferring tablets and 4 percent preferring e-readers.
June 20th is National Summer Reading Day. In conjunction with that, RIF is teaming up with Macy’s to launch the 11th annual Be Book Smart campaign to support children’s literacy. Be Book Smart begins June 18, and invites customers nationwide to give $3 at any Macy’s register in-store, to help provide a book for a child and get $10 off a purchase of $30 or more. Macy’s will donate 100 percent of every $3 to RIF. The campaign ends July 13.
To celebrate the launch of the campaign, select Macy’s across the country will host Reading Circles, featuring storytelling and photos with popular book characters. Customers can also help spread the word about the campaign by entering the Be Book Smart Summer Instagram photo contest. One winner will be selected each week of the campaign to receive a $500 Macy’s gift card.
But, you don’t have to be Macy’s to do your part. Take kids on summer outings to the library and book stores. Share your love of books with them by giving them a book you enjoyed as a child. Help them join a reading program at the public library. Most offer programs that give prizes for books read. Read with them and to them. Talk about what got you interested in reading.
Bottom Line: Reading books is as important to me as breathing.