Reading to your kids could result in a lifetime earnings increase of R2m

Find free stories for children in Parent24’s Storytime Hub
Find free stories for children in Parent24’s Storytime Hub

Recent stats have revealed that 78% of South African nine-year-olds are unable to read for meaning in any language.

It is feared that as adults these children will be less equipped to engage with and contribute towards the economy, business, media, politics, and more. 

Must read: 50% of children have never read a book with their parents – here's why we need to encourage reading early on

According to Somikazi Deyi, a Department of African Languages lecturer at the University of Cape Town’s School of Languages and Literatures, “Early language development is rooted in the interactions children have with their parents, caregivers and peers.”

Reading results in improved outcomes for children

In an article shared by local national reading-for-enjoyment campaign Nal'ibali she shares that a “significant body of research” proves that reading for pleasure leads to improved outcomes for children.

We know that reading to kids results in numerous benefits to both the reader and the children, but did you know that research has proven that there is in fact an actual financial benefit too?

It might take longer to pay off than some of the more immediate benefits like better communication and basic speech skills, enhanced concentration and discipline and a stronger parent and child bond, but the benefit of higher academic performance will pay out in the long run.

Increase in lifetime earnings of over R2 million

Lynn Fielding, US author of The 90% Reading Goal, details how 20 minutes of reading a day can lead to an increase in the chances a child stays in school, does well and goes on to have a secure job.

Must read: Top 10 books every child should own

Research done in the UK supports this finding. A study called The Value of Basic Skills in the British Labour Market showed that higher literacy at school is associated with having 15% higher earnings.

According to, the average salary in South Africa is R28 900. Let’s say your child has a career that lasts 40 years – that’s an increase in lifetime earnings of R2 016 000.

Over two million rand for 20 minutes of reading per day?

Count me in!

Parents, teachers and caregivers can encourage and support a love of reading in children by taking them to libraries, joining reading programs and reading to them, as well as retelling stories and discussing or acting out the stories.

Local organisations such as Nal'ibali, Shine Literacy, FunDza Literacy Trust and BookDash are working hard to provide children with books and programmes to instill a love of reading from an early age.

Learn more about these organisations, and find free stories for children too, in Parent24’s Storytime Hub.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

 Share your experience of reading to kids with us, and we could publish your story. Anonymous contributions are always welcome.

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