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I’ve kept so few of my early,
lofty parenting resolutions. Once upon a
time, my kids were going to eat a diet of mostly fresh fruits, vegetables and lean proteins from animals that were humanely raised. But the truth is that I bust out the macaroni and
cheese on a (minimum) twice-weekly basis. I was going to have them learn a foreign language and master the
piano. Almost all of my well-intentioned
aspirations have ceded to the realities and rigors of actual parenthood.
The one exception to my
downward-shifting mothering standards has been reading. My kids might never master enough Spanish to
order a burrito gordo, but by God,
they will be readers—hopefully, lifelong
readers who would no sooner give up the pleasures of reading than they would of good
According to a recent
study by Scholastic, I’m not alone in my enthusiasm for raising
readers. The Scholastic study was
designed to “explore family attitudes and behaviors around reading books for
fun,” and offers insight to how to turn our children on to the joy of reading
for pleasure. 71 percent of parents with children ages 6-17 rank
“strong reading skills” as “the most important skill a child should have,” and
fully 86 percent of parents say that “reading books for fun is extremely or very
Who wouldn't want their
children to be lifelong readers? Reading has the benefits of increasing vocabulary, stimulating imagination, increasing academic success and allowing your child a break from screens and technology. Reading can help foster tolerance, teach children to relax and—my favorite—gives them the opportunity to escape to another world.
83 percent [of children] said that they enjoyed reading aloud with their parents mainly because of the special bonding that happened during that time. More importantly, they didn’t want it to stop.
Not surprisingly, the
study confirmed that the hours we’ve logged reading (and re-reading) "Goodnight, Moon" and "Fancy Nancy" to our toddlers will pay big dividends. And assuming you enjoy the nightly ritual of
tearing through the "Amelia Bedelia" canon
(really, who doesn’t?), there’s more good news: You should continue reading to your kids even when they’re old enough to do it themselves. That’s right—long after your child has
mastered reading, there are immense benefits to continuing to read aloud to
The children themselves
confirmed the importance they put on the time spent reading with their
parents. 83 percent of them said that they
enjoyed reading aloud with their parents mainly because of the special bonding
that happened during that time. More importantly, they didn’t want it to stop: 40 percent of children ages 6-11
wanted the reading to continue even after they were capable of reading
independently. The study confirmed that
those early positive associations of reading with pleasure and bonding will
provide a solid foundation for lifelong reading.
Of course, no discussion
of reading is complete without the specter of screen time. 71 percent of
parents wish that their children would “do more things that didn’t involve
Guess what? Children who
develop a love of reading for pleasure spend less time in front of a screen. I’m not sure I needed Scholastic to confirm
that for me, but now my empirical observations are backed by science.