Don’t all Parents Read to their Children?

As the title of thbookstarte post suggests, I’m curious. In the past couple of months, both Boo and Little Man have received Bookstart packs. I like these, and the children like these – always happy to welcome some new books into the house. Within these packs, along with books, are guides for adults. So, for example, the ‘babies love books’ guide tells us why we should read to them, and where we can get books from. Seriously, it says that. Whether this is controversial or not (and who can imagine it would be?), I really struggle to understand how any parent (any person, actually), cannot know where to get books from. It actually ties in with an observation my husband made whilst driving past a library at the weekend. Next to the library sign, it told us that we could borrow books there…for free – who knew?! (I should point out here that husband is a sign writer, so he pays attention to signs and banners far more than normal people do!). I worry that there’s a need for these guides to be written, though clearly as they exist, along with the packs, there must be?

Books are not expensive. At full price, they compare favourably to the cost of many toys, but they can easily be found in charity shops or in the big supermarkets with deals on, for 50p-£1, and then there are those free libraries. As the guides tell us, and common sense dictates, reading to our children gives them a great start in life, as well as being a lovely time of bonding where you sit there and give them your undivided attention. Even if you only have 5 minutes to give to them all day, that’s really all it takes to read a picture book or two, or a chapter of their school book.

My mum has recently retired from a job in a school, as a teaching assistant, and she’d often tell me how she had agitated parents pointing out that they hadn’t got time to listen to their children reading a book. No time at all. Just a few pages, once a week. It saddens me. It angers me. And these are the free school books, of course. I wonder how many books these children have in their homes. I’m not suggesting that a fortune be spent on them, or that hours and hours are taken up with them (though I should admit that I think we will spend a fair bit on them here, and we will happily be wiling away hours on them), but a book or two, the odd trip to the library, surely that’s worth a little effort?

As you’ll probably realise, I’m passionate about reading. I love books myself (as a busy mum, if someone offered me a few hours to myself, I know I’d already be heading to my bookshelves to choose which book I’d be enjoying in my little respite!) and I believe every child should have plenty to escape into magical worlds with. A chance to learn so many things. The amount of non-fiction books they can enjoy is fantastic, too, and they seem so much more interesting now than when I was little (which wasn’t that long ago). I’d have loved the Horrible Histories books. I love history, so I’m looking forward to introducing Boo to them when she’s old enough.

Anyway, I digress. I’m asking, does reading feature as a priority in your home, or is it time-consuming and becoming outdated? How do you feel about the expense of reading?

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12 thoughts on “Don’t all Parents Read to their Children?”

  1. I agree it is and should be a priority. We have read to our children every day since they were 6 months old (and before but not every day) now they can read (the eldest) and learning to read (the youngest) we listen to them read all the time. I think it is very important for them to enjoy reading and get enjoyment from books and the written word. I thought that was the case for everyone, but recently realised this is not the case at all.

    1. It is just so important, and I genuinely struggle to see how people don’t view it as a priority, yet like you, I know that some don’t. I know we’re all entitled to parent differently, but I just really feel for the children who don’t get this at home. Thanks for sharing x

  2. Reading to/with (when they can) your children is such a joy and so important for education, the cultivation of imagination and an immediate way to transport your kids through time and location. It’s place is vital among other media it competes with!

    1. Absolutely! As you point out, apart from the fact that you know it’s great for them, it’s enjoyable for us, too. Why miss out on that?

  3. Love books myself, LO not so keen, or rather it took him a while to grow into them….and TBH reading at bedtime was a chore as he resisted so much….and perhaps I was a tad disappointed when he didn’t have the same enthusiasm for Narnia as I had (and still have)! But things have improved as he has started to choose his own books and his new school is offering more his type of books (he seems to relish factual books, science fiction, Dahl…and is coming into his own now he has more choice.
    Agree though aboslute key is reading…just hard sometimes to keep it fun…I was very keen that he wasn’t put off reading for life and TBH forcing him to read I felt would have been counter-productive, but, yes, it’s very sad when parents can’t make the time to read at all (even if it’s just reading a bedtime story).

    1. Yes, encouraging and forcing are two different things! My children are only 3 & 10mths old, so I’ve not yet come across a resistance to reading, as they love story time. It sounds like you handled it just the right way, and it’s great he’s discovering his own reading preferences now. As a parent, you’re still prioritising it, though, which I think is all we can continue to do. Thanks for sharing.

  4. We are massive readers in my house too, littles age4 and nearly 2 love bloks. I love your Twitter handle as I think our house is a reading residence too! I have to say though as a primary teacher who had worked in deprived areas you might be surprised at the amount of adults who do not have the literacy skills to read a simple book. If course you can still look at pictures and discuss but often there is s lot of shame attached to illiteracy. Many of these young adults were never read to as children so they do not have the positive associations you or I might have. These kids are at a massive disadvantage in early education as they have no pre reading skills like ‘reading’ information from illustrations and are unlikely to know we read from left to right, top to bottom etc. Their biggest disadvantage though is not having an inherent love of stories and desire to read for themselves. So to answer your question, some parents don’t read to their kids but maybe not always for the reasons we might think.

    1. Absolutely true, thanks for sharing your experiences. A totally separate issue to unwillingness to read. Such a shame as both parents & children miss out on so much, and as you say, they then go into the education system behind their peers already.

  5. I totally agree! A love of reading is a gift that my mum gave me (and I am so grateful to her for that) – I want to pass the gift on to my children. As you say, it doesn’t have to cost anything apart from time and the rewards are huge.

    Being able to read (and enjoy it), means that you can travel anywhere and experience anything – magic, monsters, far away/fantastical lands, love, friendship, challenges… A good book can transport us to a whole different world. How sad that some children will miss out on that just because their parents can’t be bothered to spend time reading to and with them 🙁

    1. So pleased your mum gave you this gift, too. It’s one I suppose I took for granted until more recently, but it’s one that I’m very thankful for. My children are just 3 and 11 months, but already have a vast library and love being read to, and the 3yo entertains herself with them, too, as she knows so many of the stories by memory anyway. It’s great to see her choose to settle down with a pile of books and I’m really looking forward to being there with both of them on their literary travels as they grow older. Thanks for reading x

  6. As a complete book worm I can’t imagine not reading to Rio, I took him to the library when he was a newborn! I’ve bought sooo many books from the charity shops and I love watching his little face as he helps me turn the page or sees something he knows the name too. One of my biggest childhood memories is my dad reading me fairy stories before bed! Its sooo sad to think that parents ‘haven’t got the time’ to share such a precious moment!

    1. It is really sad, isn’t it? And I think both parties miss out on so much. We love our books here, and you can see how much the children enjoy the stories, and really, it only takes a few minutes. I struggle to imagine not being able to fit 5 minutes of reading into your day.

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