Alison David, Consumer Insight Director at Egmont Books UK, discusses a new research study that took place during the Covid 19 lockdown
When lockdown hit we decided to take the opportunity to work with families and focus on parents reading aloud to children. Egmont has conducted extensive research into children's reading for pleasure and we know that reading aloud to children is absolutely key in encouraging them to read independently. With families almost entirely confined to home, schools closed and parents home-schooling it was a unique chance to test and understand the impact of really focusing on reading, shining a spotlight on it in family life, for just a few weeks. What could be achieved with children's motivation and enthusiasm to read independently, their attainment and their well-being?
And so the Egmont Reading Club was born. A large qualitative study involving 42 families and a total of 64 children (32 boys and 32 girls) aged between 3 and 12 years old, it was conducted over 6 weeks during the early part of the Covid-19 Lockdown (17th April -28th May 2020). The project involved families choosing 2 Egmont books a week per child, mums committing to read aloud to their child daily, or to co-read if the child wanted to read aloud, and to keeping a diary of the experience.
We had a mix of families signing up - some children reluctant to read and disengaged from the idea of reading, some already engaged with reading and books. Parents were interested in the project due to the lockdown situation: how to get through it, and, with school out, how to help with their child's education.
Enormous impact on families
The project affected both the children and the parents profoundly. It was overwhelmingly positive for both the initially disengaged children and the engaged children alike, and for boys and girls alike. Clear themes include: (1) Parents' surprise at the extent of the benefits (2) Reading became normalised very quickly (3) Well-being improved and (4) Attainment increased. The benefits were so great that parents have decided to continue with reading aloud after the end of the project. Have a look at this video from one mum who was so inspired that she wanted to share her experience and encourage other parents to read aloud to their children.
Reading for pleasure - whether a child reads independently or is read to - can plug the education gap incredibly effectively, with great joy and no pain! Perhaps we could call it learning by stealth. Reading aloud to a child is so easy to do and brings so much happiness to children and to families. But parents are not doing it in great numbers, not doing it often, and not doing it throughout childhood. If parents experience first-hand what can happen if they do focus on daily reading at home, they are converted. It simply requires situations that enable families to try it out and know the impact for themselves.
Read more about Egmont Books research and insights here.
This blog was written by Alison David, Consumer Insight Director at Egmont Books UK for #ReadingTogetherDay