ChildStats.gov—Forum on Child and Family Statistics
faces of children
Home  |  About the Forum  |  Publications  |  Help
Search

America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2017

Family Reading to Young Children

Reading to young children promotes language acquisition and is linked with literacy development and, in later years, with achievement in reading comprehension and overall success in school.108 The percentage of young children read to 3 or more times per week by a family member is one indicator of how well young children are being prepared for school.

Indicator ED1: Percentage of children ages 3–5 who were read to 3 or more times in the last week by a family member by mother's education, selected years 1993–2012
Indicator ED1: Percentage of children ages 3–5 who were read to 3 or more times in the last week by a family member by mother's education, selected years 1993–2012

NOTE: Estimates are based on children ages 3–5 who have yet to enter kindergarten. Children without mothers in the home are not included in estimates. Prior to 2012, whereas National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES) administrations were conducted via telephone with an interviewer, NHES:2012 was a self-administered paper-and-pencil questionnaire that was mailed to respondents. Measurable differences in estimates between 2012 and prior years could reflect actual changes in the population, or the changes could be due to the mode change from telephone to mail. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Household Education Surveys Program.

  • In 2012, approximately 83 percent of children ages 3–5 who were not yet in kindergarten were read to 3 or more times per week by a family member. This rate was higher than the rate in 1993 (78 percent), although it fluctuated in the intervening years.
  • The percentage of children who were read to 3 or more times per week by a family member was higher for those whose mothers had higher levels of educational attainment. In 2012, about 93 percent of children whose mothers had at least a bachelor's degree were read to 3 or more times per week, compared with 85 percent of children whose mothers had some college education, 76 percent of children whose mothers had a high school diploma or the equivalent, and 72 percent of children whose mothers had less than a high school diploma.
  • The percentage of children who were read to 3 or more times per week by a family member was higher for White, non-Hispanic (90 percent) than for their Asian or Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic (77 percent); Black, non-Hispanic (77 percent); and Hispanic (71 percent) peers in 2012. There were no statistically significant differences between the percentages of Asian or Pacific Islander, non-Hispanics; Black, non-Hispanics; and Hispanics who were read to 3 or more times per week.
  • In 2012, the percentage of children in families with incomes at 200 percent or more of the poverty level who were read to 3 or more times per week by a family member (88 percent) was higher than the percentages of children in families with incomes at 100 percent to 199 percent of the poverty level (81 percent) and of those in families with incomes below the poverty level (74 percent) who were read to 3 or more times per week.

table icon ED1 HTML Table

108 Heckman, J. (2000). Invest in the very young. Chicago, IL: Ounce of Prevention.