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

There are so many benefits to reading with your children.
There are so many benefits to reading with your children.

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

We often take reading for granted, never truly realising there are worlds far greater than our own waiting to be explored. And when we’re young, these worlds can completely transform ours, often helping us to grow, without us even knowing it. Reading gives children – especially our littlest ones – a way of discovering new worlds, increasing their vocabulary, boosting their imagination and feeding their curiosity, all the while giving us, as parents, an opportunity to spend quality time with them. 

When children read about other children going through similar things, whether it’s a particularly challenging math problem or a bully on the playground, it can be cathartic. When we sit alongside them, it also gives them the opportunity to open up and talk about what they’re experiencing or how they’re feeling. 

Read more about the benefits of reading here: 10 reasons why reading bedtime stories should be part of your daily routine

We could go on and on about the benefits of spending time reading, drawing or simply talking to your children, but you’re probably tired of hearing that. But while it’s said far too much, a look at the stats indicates it’s still not enough. 

50% of children have never read a book or drawn with their parents 

Stats SA recently released their general household survey to reveal some parents seldom, while most parents never, spend quality time stimulating and nurturing early childhood development. 

Around a third of parents have never told stories with a child, pointed out, labelled and counted different objects or simply spoken about things they’ve done. 

An alarming 43% haven’t sat and drawn or coloured with a child, while almost 50% have never read a book with their child. 

8 out of 10 Grade 4 learners cannot read for meaning 

Neglecting to encourage reading early on results in a lack of reading culture later. In the most recent Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) it was revealed that, for this very reason, 8 out of 10 Grade 4 learners cannot read for meaning in any language. Calling it a “reading crisis” is no overstatement. 

Read more here: 8 out of 10 Grade 4 learners cannot read for meaning and this NPO is trying to help

We’re so focused on getting kids to take home as many readers as possible and pushing set work books when they start primary and high school, but by then it’s much too late. Encouraging reading from a young age is the key to growing a love for reading and creating that reading culture. 

The best way to do that is to take the time to read to your little ones – even when they’re much too young to read along with you – and forgetting all that mindless entertainment and tablet trash.  

"So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install a lovely bookshelf on the wall." – Roald Dahl 

Chat back

We were wondering why the stats are so low but couldn't quite find the answer. Are you willing to share why you're unable to read with your children? Is it time? Resources?

Tell us and we could write about it. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous.

Sign up for Parent24's newsletters.

Also read:

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
A Section 89 panel headed by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo found President Cyril Ramaphosa has an impeachable case to answer on the Phala Phala scandal.
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Ramaphosa should do the honourable thing and immediately resign.
23% - 1649 votes
Ramaphosa should follow due process and submit himself to an impeachment hearing.
30% - 2142 votes
Ramaphosa should fight the findings in court and keep his job at all costs
48% - 3461 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.