Reading Is Fundamental


When summer rolls around, we’re all ready for a break. Whether that’s romping about outside, spending time with friends, or catching up on sleep, everyone has an idea of what it means to relax and recharge. But it seems like reading is getting left off the list.

In a new survey from RIF and our partner Macy’s, we asked over 1,000 parents of children ages 5-11 to talk about their kids’ summer reading habits. What we found was not all sunshine: during the summer, children spend nearly three times as many hours weekly watching TV or playing video games as they do reading.

Despite research that shows the importance of summer reading in preventing kids from losing literacy skills, only 17% of parents think reading is a top priority over the summer. 60% of parents surveyed didn’t believe their child loses reading skills over the summer, although existing research highlights summer learning loss as a major problem, especially for children from low-income families.

Here’s what else we learned:

  • On average, parents say their child spends about 17 hours a week watching TV or playing video games, another 17 hours a week playing outside and only about 6 hours a 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 — but 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% of parents said their child preferred print books for summer reading, compared to 7% preferring tablets and 4% preferring e-readers.

While summer is the best time for all those experiences that make childhood so sweet — ice cream, camping, fireworks — it’s also a special time when children can choose to read exactly the books that interest them. Remember to let kids pick the books they want to read, and dig in to our special summer materials to work reading into all kinds of activities.

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