[Seven-Year Follow-up Survey Data on the Reading Behaviors of Children from Elementary to High School]
About 50% of children spend 0 min of their day reading books
Children who spend longer hours reading are more likely to evaluate themselves highly.
The Benesse Educational Research & Development Institute (BERD) conducts surveys targeting children, parents, and schoolteachers to understand the current situation regarding child-rearing and school education. The BERD is an in-house think tank of Benesse Corporation (Headquarters: Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture; Representative Director and President: Hitoshi Kobayashi).
We summarized data on children's reading behavior patterns and aspects affecting such behavior patterns based on the results of the Japanese Longitudinal Study of Children and Parents (JLSCP) jointly conducted with the Institute of Social Science, the University of Tokyo. We hope to give our readers a good overview of the current issues on children's reading habits.
The survey results revealed that about 50% of children spend no time reading for pleasure, and such children are more likely read less as they get older, and that the average reading time over the past seven years has slightly decreased. In addition, our analysis results based on the seven-year follow-up survey targeting the same parent-child pairs show that parental interaction such as reading aloud for children and helping them develop good reading habits at early childhood stages significantly affects children's reading behavior patterns as they grow. The data from the follow-up survey on parent-child pairs gives valuable insights into the trend of children's reading behavior patterns over time. Furthermore, this data helps us understand the association between children's reading behavior patterns and the aspects of family environment and the children themselves.
Summary of Result Analysis
- Trend of children's reading behavior patterns : About 50% of children spend no time reading, and the average reading time has decreased over the past seven years
- About 50% of children spend no time reading for pleasure
Among 1st-12th graders (i.e., elementary to senior high school students), 49.0% of children answered they "do not read (i.e. spend 0 min reading) books on weekdays. More precisely, the percentage of boys who spend no time reading is higher than that of girls, and the higher the educational stage, the higher the percentage of children who spend no time reading. Figure 1
- Average reading time has decreased slightly over the past seven years
Children's average reading time has decreased by 3.0 minutes from 18.2 minutes in 2015 to 15.2 minutes in 2022. Figure 2
- Family factors: Reading aloud for children positively affects children's reading behavior patterns. In addition, helping and encouraging children to develop good reading habits in their early childhood is critical.
- The length of children's reading time differs depending on their family environment
Children whose families have a lot of books at home or whose parents teach the importance of reading books are likelier to spend longer hours reading for pleasure. Figures 3-1 & 3-2
- Reading aloud for preschool children has a positive effect on their reading habits for a long time
Children whose parents read aloud for them at the preschool stage are more likely to spend more time reading. The effects of reading aloud continue until they become 7th-9th graders (junior high school). Figure 4
- Children's reading habits developed in their early childhood are retained as they grow
Children who develop reading habits in early childhood are more likely to spend more time on extended reading as they grow older. Figure 5
- Effects of reading: Children with good reading habits are more likely to evaluate themselves highly
- Highly evaluate their abilities of understanding, thinking, and expression
Children reading for more extended hours are more likely to highly evaluate their ability to understand, think, and express ideas and feelings. Figure 6
- Children's reading behavior patterns are associated with their confidence and future goals
Children with non-reading habits show less positive attitudes toward their interest in news events, confidence, and future goals. Figure 7
According to our analysis results based on seven-year data from the Japanese Longitudinal Study of Children and Parents (JLSCP) jointly conducted by the Institute of Social Science, the University of Tokyo, and the Benesse Educational Research & Development Institute, about 50% of children (from elementary to senior high school students) spend no time reading for pleasure. In addition, boys are more likely to spend no time reading than girls, while older children are more likely to spend no time reading than younger children(Figure 1). Furthermore, children's average reading time decreased over the past seven years (Figure 2).
Then, what can we do to increase children's reading time? According to our analysis, children whose families have many books at home or whose parents teach the importance of reading books are likelier to spend longer hours reading(Figures 3-1 & 3-2). Therefore, it can be said that family environment and parental interaction are critical to increasing children's reading time. In addition, according to the follow-up survey targeting the same parent-child pairs for seven years, children whose parents spend longer hours reading aloud for children at the preschool stage are more likely to spend longer hours reading until they become junior high school age(Figure 4). Furthermore, children who develop good reading habits in their early childhood are more likely to continue reading for longer as they grow(Figure 5). These analysis results indicate the importance of developing children's good reading habits at home in their early childhood.
More children who spend longer hours reading (the "Extensive Reading" group) answered that they are "good at" reading charts and tables, thinking logically, understanding long sentences, and expressing ideas and feelings in writing(Figure 6). In addition, they are more likely to clearly show interest in news events, confidence, and future goals(Figure 7). Evidently, children's reading behavior patterns significantly relate to desirable personalities and abilities. We will further explore causal associations between the effects of reading and the development of children's abilities.
Reading books helps children expand their world and obtain knowledge and inspiration for logical thinking. We hope our analysis data will provide some clues for families to consider the attractiveness of reading books.