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Facts about Children’s Literacy

Children who are read to at home have a higher success rate in school.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a divison of the U.S. Department of Education1, children who are read to at home enjoy a substantial advantage over children who are not:

  • Twenty-six percent of children who were read to three or four times in the last week by a family member recognized all letters of the alphabet. This is compared to 14 percent of children who were read to less frequently.
  • The NCES1 also reported that children who were read to frequently are also more likely to:
    • count to 20, or higher than those who were not (60% vs. 44%)
    • write their own names (54% vs. 40%)
    • read or pretend to read (77% vs. 57%)
  • According to NCES2, only 53 percent of children ages three to five were read to daily by a family member (1999). Children in families with incomes below the poverty line are less likely to be read to aloud everyday than are children in families with incomes at or above poverty.
  • The more types of reading materials there are in the home, the higher students are in reading proficiency, according to the Educational Testing Service.3
  • The Educational Testing Services reported that students who do more reading at home are better readers and have higher math scores; however, students read less for fun as they get older.3

Children who read frequently develop stronger reading skills.

  • According to the National Education Association, having kids read a lot is one of the crucial components of becoming a good reader. Young readers need to become practiced at recognizing letters and sounds. The only way to get good at it is to practice.4
  • The U.S. Department of Education5 found that, generally, the more students read for fun on their own time, the higher their reading scores. Between 1984 and 1996, however, the percentage of 12th grade students reporting that they "never" or "hardly ever" read for fun increased from 9 percent to 16 percent.
  • A poll of middle and high school students commissioned by the National Education Association6 found that 56 percent of young people say they read more than 10 books a year, with middle school students reading the most. Some 70 percent of middle school students read more than 10 books a year, compared with only 49 percent of high school students.

Other facts

  • The substantial relationship between parent involvement for the school and reading comprehension levels of fourth-grade classrooms is obvious, according to the U.S. Department of Education.7 Where parent involvement is low, the classroom mean average (reading score) is 46 points below the national average. Where involvement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average - a gap of 74 points. Even after controlling for other attributes of communities, schools, principals, classes, and students, that might confound this relationship, the gap is 44 points.
  • The National Assessment of Educational Progress8 tested children nationwide for reading skills. The results for reading tests for fourth-grade students were: Below the most basic level 38 percent; Proficient 31 percent, and Advanced 7 percent.

1 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2000.

2 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, from http://www.nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id+56.

3 Educational Testing Service, 1999. America's Smallest School: The Family.

4Gutloff, Karen. 1999, January. "Reading Research Ready to Go." NEA Today. Washington, DC: National Education Association.

5U.S. Department of Education. 1999. The Condition of Education 1998.

6Poll commissioned for the National Education Association by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, February 2001.

7U.S. Department of Education. 1996. Reading Literacy in the United States: Findings From the IEA Reading Literacy Study.

8U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1999, March. The Executive Summary of the 1998 National Assessment of Educational Progress Reading Report Card for the Nation, NCES 1999-50, Washington, DC.


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