Reading, Singing, and Telling Stories to Young Children

Reading, singing, and telling stories 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 47.9 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, 56.8 percent of children aged 0–5 years were sung to or told stories every day. Neither of these percentages varied significantly across locations.

Children in low-income households were less likely to have a family member read to them every day. Among children in large rural areas, the parents of 37.4 percent of children with household incomes below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) read to them every day, compared to 58.9 percent of children with household incomes of 400 percent or more of the FPL. The percentage of children whose parents sing or tell stories to them every day varied significantly by income within each location. In urban areas, for example, 45.0 percent of children with household incomes below the FPL were sung to or told stories every day, compared to 65.6 percent of those with incomes of 400 percent or more of the FPL.

The percentage of children who were read to, sung to, or told stories by family members every day varied significantly across racial and ethnic groups, with Hispanic children least likely to be read, sung to, or told stories to every day in both urban and large rural areas. Within each racial and ethnic group, the proportions of children engaging in these activities every day generally did not vary greatly by location. One exception was among non-Hispanic White children: Within this group, children living in small rural areas were less likely to be read to than those in urban and large rural areas (50.4 versus 60.8 and 57.6 percent, respectively).

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