Read Aloud Time: How Do You Stack Up?


An informal survey of moms' read aloud time, plus tips for fitting in reading time

I saw this display in
my grocery store last summer, and I couldn’t decide how I felt about it.

An informal survey of moms' read aloud time, plus tips for fitting in reading time
On one hand,
I was glad to see that they are supporting literacy in young children. On the
other hand, I was kind of offended. Only 3 times a week? Why not 3 times a day?
Or even once a day?
From comments
my own friends make, I know lots of families fit in daily reading time.  Still, I started to wonder.
I decided to
take an informal survey. I set up a little online questionnaire, and polled 32
moms of kids ages 2-5.

How Long Do Moms Read?


Rather than
ask them to remember back a whole week, I asked how many minutes they recalled
reading aloud in the previous 24 hours.

An informal survey of moms' read aloud time, plus tips for fitting in reading timeOn average,
they reported reading to their child for 17 minutes. Only 2 moms reported zero
minutes of reading time.
The moms in
my sample were either members of my local Mothers of Multiples club or their friends,
plus a few of my own friends. I didn’t ask demographic questions on this quick,
unscientific survey, but I would guess that it skews a bit higher than average
in terms of socioeconomic and education levels.  
  

How Long Do They Think They Should be
Reading?

The moms
also reported how long they thought they should be reading. I wish that I’d
asked this as an open ended question. Here are my results:
An informal survey of moms' read aloud time, plus tips for fitting in reading time

Are They Satisfied with How Long They’re
Reading?

 I also looked at whether they read as long as
they thought they should.
While most
of them read as much, or more than, they wanted, 41% – a pretty big chunk – did
not.
An informal survey of moms' read aloud time, plus tips for fitting in reading time

Tips for Finding Time to Read Aloud

My final
survey question asked for tips on finding time to read aloud. Nearly everyone,
regardless of their other responses, said that making it a part of your routine
helps. 

Yes, the moms who read the least amount of time said this as much as
those who read the most. I think this
means that we need to think harder about how
we’ll include it in our routine. 

Putting it into potty time is great, except
some kids grow to be pretty quick and self-sufficient there. Putting it at
bedtime is great, but sometimes time runs short, making it tempting to skip. 

So, I think making reading part of your routine takes some thought and dedication.

I’d love to
hear about what works well for you and your family so that we can learn from
each other. 
In my family, I think what has helped the most is focusing on our
love of reading. We have books around that the kids beg us to read, and that we enjoy too.

It’s hard to
say “no” to a sweet child asking for a favorite story.
An informal survey of moms' read aloud time, plus tips for fitting in reading time


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10 thoughts on “Read Aloud Time: How Do You Stack Up?

  • Emma

    I read a book from about 20 years ago that recommended reading just a few times a week. Ideally every parent would read several times a day. My daughter learned young that whatever I was doing, if she asked to read a book I would almost always stop to do it!

    • Heather Post author

      My kids have figured out that's a good way to get my attention too!

      I spent some time looking for evidence-based research on this subject, but wasn't able, at least in my time available, to dig up a magic number.

    • Heather Post author

      We sometimes have days like that too. I imagine everyone does. It helps us that the kids expect (demand!) books at a certain time every day, but on school nights bedtime trumps even reading time if they're clearly sleepy. I'm so glad it's summer now!

  • Cami Hall

    I love this post! I'm all for helping parents read more to their children by providing practical solutions to work it into their busy lives! Great ideas here!

  • Amanda

    Like others said, my daughter (and my son is catching on) knows it is hard for me to say no to reading time so throughout the day we will read aloud 3-5 books. At bedtime we read again and we have to cap the girl at 3 books or else she'll keep us up all night! The boy is also starting to push for his book choices so we'll probably be upping the reading to either 6 books (3 his, 3 hers or 4 – 2 each). My daughter also likes chapter books so I have been reading books that I like aloud during Lego or Playdough or breakfast. I love to read, so working it into our daily life has not been hard…neglecting other things like dishes and laundry in favor of reading is what I struggle with!

    Visiting from Shine Blog Hop #50

    • Heather Post author

      I hear you about reading over housework! That's great that you're able to fit in so much reading. Now that my kids are a bit older, at bedtime we go by the clock rather than the number of books. We all have a hard time finding a stopping place – the downside of picking great books. It was easier back in the days of a certain number of books!

  • Sadia

    I suspect that your peers are self-selected to value education and have the "luxury" of reading time. I see an interesting cross-section of the community in my daughters' public school dual language program. The children from English-speaking homes tend to have very involved, highly educated parents who advocated for their children to be in the program. We all tend to have at least 100 children's books in our homes and regularly visit the local library. Many of the Spanish-speaking families' children ended up in the program by default and deal with far more economic hardship, often having to work multiple jobs. Some of the parents are functionally illiterate. For them, reading with their children every day, something you and I take for granted, may be impossible. If you look at the statistics, it's shocking to realize how many families can't afford/don't have even one age-appropriate book in the home for their children. It was so odd, coming from an academic home, to visit my in-laws for the first time and realize that they owned only 4 books, among them a dictionary, thesaurus, and Bible. My living room, on the other hand, is built around our bookshelves. For some parents, 3 times a week may very well be a stretch. The rest of us don't need the reminder!

    Thanks for linking with #TwinklyTuesday.

    • Heather Post author

      Thanks for your insight. I used to teach at a high poverty middle school, and we had a lot of families like you describe. We also had families who, despite challenges, made reading and schoolwork a priority. When I sent home a low grade on a progress report, I always worried over the children whose parents didn't follow up with me for their requested conferences. Fortunately, we had a great staff and were able to provide a lot of support at school.

      Anyway, the main reason I mentioned the assumed demographics of my survey sample is that I wanted to be clear that it wasn't representative of the population at large. I would guess it does reflect my readers, though.

      Perhaps we should band together and work to support organizations that support early literacy in high risk children.

  • Jill R.

    Reading daily is important I think!

    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!