William Shakespeare

A study by the National Literacy Trust found that one third of UK dads aren’t encouraging their children to read. This figure is up 30% from 2009, the last year that data was available on the topic.

The study also found that the number of mothers who are never seen reading has been relatively steady at one-in-six.

The study, called “Family Matters: The Importance of Family Support for Young People’s Reading,” was conducted by researchers at the National Literacy Trust, who analyzed survey data from 2012, 2009 and 2005. In the survey, 21,000 children aged eight to 16 were asked questions about family reading habits. For example, researchers asked if the children had ever been to a bookstore, received a book as a Christmas gift or birthday present, and if they witnessed their parents reading. Here are the key findings from the National Literacy Trust’s report:

  • One in three (32.9%) dads are never seen reading by their children – versus one in seven (14.9%) mothers.
  • One in four dads (24.9%) was never seen reading by their children.
  • Far fewer dads than moms encourage their children to read (66.3% versus 82.6%).
  • Below average readers are four times more likely to say their dad doesn’t encourage them to read.
  • One in seven children (in target group) has never been to a bookshop.
  • More White children (compared to Black, Asian or Mixed backgrounds) reported that their father did not encourage them to read at all.
  • Children White backgrounds were more likely to say that they never see their father reading.

You can read the whole survey here (PDF).

Children that are encouraged to read are more likely to read at a higher level than expected, and get more enjoyment from reading. The National Literacy Trust also adds that encouraging children to read does not require the parents to have a high level of academic ability. The simple act of encouraging a child to read makes a difference.