What makes a child a frequent reader?

We all know the positive influence reading can have on literacy and academic outcomes. However, research is also telling us that Australian children’s literacy performance is in decline.* So how can we raise a child who devours their books? How can we go about raising a nation of readers?

Late last year, children’s book publishers Scholastic, in conjunction with YouGov, conducted a survey to explore family attitudes and behaviours in Australia around reading books for fun. Known as the Australian Kids and Family Reading Report, the research engaged nearly 2,000 individuals, including parents of children aged between 0 and 17.

The survey revealed that there are three dynamics that are among the most powerful predictors of reading frequency for children age between 6 and 16. These are:

– how often a child is read books aloud;
– a child’s reading enjoyment;
– and child’s understanding of their reading level.

For those aged between 6 and 11, additional predictors included parental involvement in encouraging reading, and how early they started being read books aloud, whereas for children aged between 12 and 17, having parents who were frequent readers was flagged as an influencer.

Clearly, as parents, there are a number of things we can be actively doing to encourage our children to become frequent readers – defined as those who read books for fun 5–7 days a week.

We can start by setting a good example. Have books accessible around the home, and let your children see you reading – and enjoying it.

We can read aloud to our children, every day, from as young an age as possible, introducing them to a wide range of books and stories through visits to the library, bookstore, and subscription book services.

Most importantly, perhaps, we can ensure this reading time is fun, engaging and never ever forced.