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Reading to children has a whole host of developmental benefits for them such as learning to speak and imagine, in addition to the reading skills. This is why it’s important that you read books to little ones at a very young age (including at infancy) and continue until at least they finish Kindergarten if not more.
With that said, choosing the right duration of reading is crucial for kids to get the maximum benefit.
Read to your child too little and they probably won’t get as much learning. But read too much and you risk making them bored and unwilling to engage.
Some parents wonder how many books they should be reading to their kid a day, which is actually a good question to ask. However, I believe it’s more useful to try to know how long and how often you should be reading to them. A book could be short and may be read in a few minutes or could be a little long and requires more than 10 minutes to be finished.
We wanted to get some answers to the above questions (and more) with regards to reading to children. So, we surveyed over 800 US parents with a child aged 1-6 years old. This is the age where most parents read to their kids, which includes toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners.
Fortunately, there were some very useful data and findings that we strongly believe will help you in this topic. Following are the survey results:
How Long Should you Read to Children
This is probably the most important question in the whole survey. We wanted to know what is the maximum amount of reading time kids would take before they have enough. So, we asked parents how long they read to their child before they lose interest or get bored.
About 21% of kids in the US can take at most 4 minutes of reading time with their parent before they lose interest.
Almost two thirds of children (around 65%) are okay with their parent reading books to them for up to 5-20 minutes. Of those, about 31% enjoy up to 5-10 minutes of reading by their parents.
Children that love being read to for over 20 minutes constitute only around 14% of all kids.
The vast majority of US kids (86%) are okay with their parents reading books to them for up to 20 minutes or less before getting bored or losing interest.
How Often Should you Read to Children
We wanted to know how often parents read to their child on average.
The vast majority of US parents (about 77%) read books to their child every day. Of those, almost half (49%) read once a day for their kid.
About 13% of parents read to their child every other day.
One in 10 parents (10%) reads to their kid only once a week or even less often.
The vast majority of American parents (77%) read books to their child at least once a day.
How Many Books Should you Read to Children
We simply asked parents about the amount of books they read each day to their kid. This included only those that actually do read every day.
Of US parents that read every day to their child, two thirds (67%) read one or two books a day. Around 34% of them read one book daily for their kid.
About 16% of parents read three books to their child daily.
Parents that take the time to read four books or more to their kid every day constitute around 16% of all parents.
Of American parents that read daily to their kid, about 67% read one or two books each day.
Other Relevant Survey Findings
Children’s Ability to Read
We asked parents about their child’s ability to read. As mentioned before, this includes those aged 1-6 years old (i.e. preschoolers, toddlers and kindergartners).
Half of US kids aged 1-6 years old can’t read yet.
Four in 10 children aged 1-6 years old (40%) are able to read simple sight words such as ‘from’ and ‘the’. Only one in 10 kids (10%) can read complex words.
Only one in 10 American children aged 1-6 (10%) are able to read complex words.
The Number of Times to Read the Same Book Weekly
We simply asked parents how many times they read the same book to their child each week. This included only parents that do the reading at least once a week.
Almost two out of 10 US parents (19%) read the same book to their child only once weekly.
Most parents (55%) read the same book to their kid 2-3 times per week. Of those, about 33% read the same book twice weekly for their child.
Only 9% of parents read the same book to their kid seven times or more each week (i.e. once a day on average).
The majority of parents in the US (55%) read the same book to their child 2-3 times each week.
How Parents Feel About the Reading Amount
We wanted to know how parents actually feel about the amount of time they spend reading to their child.
About one third of US parents (32%) feel that they need to read more to their child.
Around six in 10 parents (61%) believe the amount of time they spend reading to their kid is about right.
Overall, the vast majority of parents (93%) feel they’re reading the right amount or even too little to their child. Only 7% of parents think they’re reading too much to their child.
The vast majority of American parents (93%) feel the amount of time they spend reading to their child is either about right or too little.
Monthly Spending on Children Books
Children books can be a little expensive, cheap or even free (which is usually the case for ebooks). We wanted to know how much money parents spend on their kid’s books each month.
About 7% of parents in the US don’t spend any money on books for their child. Those probably either download free ebooks, rent books from libraries, or receive free books from giveaways.
Most parents (51%) pay around $10-30 for their kid’s books each month. Of those, about 35% would spend $10-20 monthly on their child’s books.
About 13% of parents spend up to a maximum of $9 on books for their kid monthly. Only 15% of parents are willing to spend over $50 on books for their child per month.
The average monthly spending on books per kid is about $39.
Most US parents (51%) spend about $10-30 on books for their about per month.
Ways to Make Reading to Children More Fun
There are various methods you could employ to make the reading to children more entertaining. We cited some of the most popular ways that are used and asked parents to select which ones they actually utilize.
The most used techniques by parents in the US to make the reading to their child more fun are; reading aloud (61%), changing their tone (61%) and talking about the images (60%).
It appears that American parents are not really fond of reading outdoors to their children as only 13% do.
How Long a Children’s Book Takes Parents to Read
As indicated before, a kid’s book can be a bit long and takes over 10 minutes to be read or short such that it takes maybe a couple of minutes. So, we wanted to know how long parents actually take on average to read one book to their child.
Two in 10 US parents (20%) take up to only 4 minutes to read one book to their child.
Most parents (58%) spend about 5-15 minutes to read one book to their kid. Of those, 35% take between 5-10 minutes for reading one children’s book.
Another 12% of parents need around 16-20 minutes reading time per book.
Only one in ten parents (10%) would take over 20 minutes for reading one children’s book.
The average time parents take to read one book to their child is around 11 minutes.
The average amount of time a US parent spends to read one book to their kid is about 11 minutes.
The above stats about reading to children will hopefully be useful for you as a parent.
Based on the survey data, you want to read to your kid at least once a day. Of course, the more the merrier, provided the child is actually listening and enjoying the several reading sessions.
When it comes to the appropriate amount of reading, try to read to your child for around 5-20 minutes each time. And you shouldn’t exceed the 20 minute mark as most children will get bored after that point.
If you’re still looking to know exactly how many books to read, it’s obviously 1-2 books per day as a minimum (which most US parents do).
Consistently reading to your kid will make them more ready for kindergarten and school.
Lastly, please note the recommendations here should serve as a general guideline and the exact amount of reading to implement will ultimately depend on your kid’s age and interests in addition to their mental health.