The National Literacy Trust has just published the latest of its excellent reports on children’s and young people’s reading. Family Matters: The Importance of Family Support for Young People’s Reading details the findings of the Trust’s 2011 annual literacy survey in relation to the level of support for reading that children get from their parents. These are some of the key issues:
- Over four fifths of respondents receive some encouragement for reading from their mothers.
- Fathers are far less likely to support their children’s reading, with one in three fathers giving no encouragement at all.
- Mothers are twice as likely to be seen reading by their children as fathers, with a third of fathers never seen reading.
- The level of fathers’ support has decreased since 2005, as has the proportion who are seen reading.
- Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to get encouragement to read and to see their parents read, particularly their fathers.
- Children from White backgrounds are less likely than those from Black, Asian or Mixed backgrounds to get encouragement to read from their fathers and to see them reading.
- Children whose parents encourage them to read achieve higher reading levels at school,and are more likely to see themselves as readers, to enjoy reading and to read frequently.
- The same applies to children who see their parents read.
The report points out that family support for literacy does not require high academic ability or substantial financial resources. It concludes that more must be done to increase parents’, especially fathers’, awareness of the important role they play in supporting their children’s literacy. The findings and conclusion certainly chime with my experience as a family literacy tutor. I have witnessed over and over the difference that effective support for parents and carers can make to children’s reading. It’s why I love giving training on family literacy and family learning – I know first hand the value of good interventions. (And it was fantastic to have lots of fathers and grandfathers at my most recent workshop for parents and carers just last week. Male role models matter.)