Three in ten students in the 6-17 age group frequently read 24 non-syllabus books a year, finds a first-of-its-kind report on reading habits of children. It adds that 9 in 10 children read for pleasure once a week.
The survey, part of the ‘Kids and Family Reading Report’, surveyed 350 parents on behalf of their offspring in the 0-5 age bracket and 1,402 children aged 6-17.
It was conducted by Scholastic, a publishing house, and YouGov, a research institute, between September and October last year.
The report released on Friday reflects poor reading habits among children although 87% respondents have said that they know they should read more books for pleasure. Only 50% children devote reading time for a book in school on a working day, the report says.
As children grow older, reading competes with many screen-related activities, states the report. “I wish my child would do more things that did not involve screen-time,” said 85% of the parents.
Interestingly, in the digital-heavy world, students continue to prefer printed books over e-books, the report notes. Around 67% of the respondents have read an e-book but 84% said that they would not give up reading printed books. “This is good to know as more and more schools are switching to tabs and digital books these days,” said Anand Mishra, a parent from Goregaon.
The survey pointed out four dynamics that can predict the frequency of reading among children. Firstly, how often a child reads a book out loud and secondly how much they enjoy reading. Even parents’ reading frequency influences children, the reports observes.
Among those surveyed, 85% children said that they loved it when parents read books to them and 57% said that they didn’t want them to stop. Parents usually read books aloud to children in the 0-5 age group to teach them words, develop vocabulary and inculcate a liking for books. About half of these parents advise that since birth children should be read books aloud.
Educators said that schools are to be blamed for not inculcating reading habits among children. According to Father Francis Swamy, principal, St Mary’s (ICSE) School, Mazgaon, most schools do not have a reading period; even those who do often allow teachers to use it to teach other subjects. “Reading habits are declining because of Internet but schools are not doing much to encourage it,” said Swamy. “Library periods are used up by teachers to complete their portion.”
Although the state school education department started holding ‘drop everything and read’ day annually to promote reading among students, many government-aided schools don’t even have full-time librarians, added Swamy.
“Around 1,000 librarian posts are vacant in Mumbai schools, the department is not sanctioning them and so we can’t fill them,” he added.