Reading, Singing, and Telling Stories
Reading, telling stories, and singing to young children regularly can lay the foundation for future literacy and educational success. Parents of children aged 0-5 were asked how often their children were read to during the past week. A total of 47.8 percent of children in this age group were read to (by a parent or other family member) every day. Parents were also asked how often they or other family members sang or told stories to their children in the past week. Overall, 59.1 percent of children aged 0-5 years were sung to or told stories every day. Neither of these percentages varied greatly across locations.
Children in low-income households were less likely to have a family member read to them every day. This discrepancy is greatest in urban areas, where the parents of 34.2 percent of children with household incomes below the Federal poverty level (FPL) read to them every day, compared to 60.0 percent of children with household incomes of 400 percent of FPL or more. The percentage of children whose parents sing or tell stories to them every day also varies by income, but not as widely. In urban areas, for example, 51.4 percent of children with household incomes below the FPL were sung to or told stories every day, compared to 67.4 percent of those with incomes of 400 percent of FPL or more.
While the percentage of children who were read to, sung to, or told stories by family members every day varies across racial and ethnic groups, within each group these proportions generally do not vary greatly by location. One exception is American Indian/Alaska Natives, who were considerably less likely to be read to if they lived in small rural areas.