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Indicator V-2 Reading to Young Children by Family Members
NOTE TO READERS: Please include the following reference when citing data from this page: "American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Humanities Indicators,".
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Updated (12/05/11) with 2005 and 2007 data from the National Household Education Survey Program.

This indicator concerns the percentage of preschool- and kindergarten-age children who were read to by a family member on a daily basis for years 1993 through 2007. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) National Household Education Survey Program indicate that the early to mid-1990s saw an increase in family reading, with the number of children ages 3–51 who were read to every day during the week preceding the survey increasing from 53% to 58% (Figure V-2). These gains were eroded over the latter part of the 1990s, but then another surge in reading to young children resulted in a 2005 rate of 60%. By 2007, however, the share of young children being regularly read to by a family member had decreased to 55%. This drop represents the single greatest decline in such activity recorded by the Household Education Survey since the question about reading to young children was first asked in 1993.

Figure V-2, Full Size
Supporting Data Supporting Data

These data also reveal that the likelihood of a young child being read to on a regular basis by a family member varied according to the educational level of his or her mother. For example, throughout the 1993–2007 time period, over 70% of young children whose mothers possessed at least a bachelor’s degree were read to every day, while the proportion peaked at 55% for the children of mothers with only a high school education.

The relatively steep decline observed from 2005 to 2007 in reading to young children by family members was most pronounced among children with mothers who had a high school diploma. Rates of reading to youngsters for this group and for children whose mothers had less than a high school education both hit record lows in 2007 (39% and 31% respectively). The only children who were more likely to have been regularly read to by a family member on daily basis in 2007 than in 2005 were those whose mothers had at least a bachelor’s degree.

1 Limited to children who had yet to enter kindergarten.

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