It only takes one look at my blog to establish that I am a voracious reader. I haven’t always been so fanatical about it though. I’ve always enjoyed reading, even as a child, but it was only since the beginning of last year that I truly caught the book bug.
My mum and dad had been reading to me long before I could l talk. Granted, I probably spent a lot of the time either staring vacantly at the pictures or trying to snatch the book from them at first. All beginnings are humble ones. Whether conscious or not, children learn from the example set by adults – and who are they around more than their parents? Be it by direct interaction or just observing others;
babies are like sponges.
I am sure there are many parents out there that discovered this very quickly. My mum did too. I took my time in learning to crawl, which eventually progressed to walking. What I lacked in motivation to move, however, I made up for elsewhere. In particular, I was very good at picking up words – rude ones especially. I was caught muttering phrases like “oh for fuck’s sake” to myself many a time. Even when you think kids aren’t paying attention, they are – aren’t they mum?
Kids have amazing skill sets and they’re completely underestimated. They will unashamedly declare that they “SNIFFED BACK THEIR SNOT”, or that the person in front of you at the checkout smells, much to the amusement of any adult (quietly tittering to themselves) too polite/honest to say so. If they can pick upon such obvious things, it makes you wonder what else fails to escape their notice.
A child’s mind really starts to mature once they go to school (or alternative education). They are introduced to a world of small people, just like them. They are no longer the centre of attention. They have to share and make friends and find their place in the world. Most importantly of all though, they start to learn. In order to do that, they have to learn to read – and this is expected to be encouraged at home.
But do we really do enough to encourage our children to read?
We have already established that reading is an integral part of learning, but are we setting the right example? Statistics would suggest, not exactly.
A YouGov study conducted in 2014 gave some interesting results when British adults were asked about their reading habits. The study includes quite a lot of information, including age demographic, gender and location. If you want to take a look at the results yourself, you can find them here:-
One of the most interesting points, in my opinion, was how nearly 50% of adults described themselves as either avid or regular readers. Note that this is entirely subjective, so we cannot really comment on or assess this piece of information. What I found most shocking though (as an avid reader I admit I am biased), was how many books most of those questioned reported to read. The most common answer was between 3 and 5 books.
What this means…
To get an idea of how this works out on a practical scale, I did some searching on Google. A rough estimate for average words per novel has been suggested at about 90,000 and the average reading speed at 300 words per minute. Let’s take those numbers and apply it to an adult who says they read the maximum number of books in that bracket (5). Do you know how many minutes a day an adult would have to read to hit this target over the course of a year?
Five. Only five minutes a day.
Another, broader study also came to similar conclusions, reporting four books as the most common response given by a similar sample size of readers. This study, in contrast to the one quoted above, is American rather than British. You can find the link to the article here.
So, if the vast majority of parents are reading the equivalent of fewer than five minutes a day, is that really sending our children the right message? We all have our own families, commitments, and schedules. I am not trying to pass judgment here… only to make you ask yourself the following question:
Could we do more to show children that reading is fun? Could we all read a little more to show that it is more than just a chore, or learning exercise?