The child reading gender gap

 

Child reading a book
Child reading

I’ve been fascinated by a survey by www.onbuy.com.

They surveyed 904 parents of children aged between four and twelve years old about their bedtime reading routines. Surprisingly (for me) there was a difference in whether children were read to at night based on the gender of the child.

67% of parents with only daughters read to them more than four times per week whereas 33% of parents with only sons read to them more than four times per week.

Interestingly, 29% of parents with both sons and daughters admitted to reading more often to their daughters.

Many parents also admitted that their sons were more interested in playing on the iPad before bedtime.

I can’t help but feel sad that boys are getting the rough end of the stick here. Yes they might love playing on screen before bedtime but they are missing out on a lovely opportunity to bond with their parents over a magical adventure or fantasy story.

Some of my favourite moments are when I get to sit down with my youngest two (a boy and a girl for the record) and read a chapter from a story. They love reading by themselves too so we don’t do this every night these days but it does mean that they get to hear a more challenging book than they might read to themselves. We get to talk about the vocabulary – they are always allowed to interrupt to ask what a word or phrase means – and we find ourselves discussing the story at random times of day.

According to a Scholastic report 83% of children love being read aloud to. The only thing that surprises me here is that the figure isn’t higher.

And finally, 39% of fathers admitted they never or very rarely read to their children (compared to only 4% of mothers). This is a tricky one. Many fathers don’t come in from work before the children are in bed and yes, I know it’s sexist and old fashioned but bedtime has long been seen as the mother’s domain. But even so, if boys don’t see that reading is something that daddy does, then maybe they don’t see that it’s something they should do either.

Perhaps it’s not surprising then that boys in general under perform in reading tests compared with girls. And could it be changed by more bedtime reading at home?

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