Statistics show that family support for reading – including reading aloud to children – has a major impact on reading success. However, research has uncovered a variety of reasons why many families aren’t as involved as they could be.
Studies of individual families show that what the family does is more important to student success than family income or education. This is true whether the family is rich or poor, whether the parents finished high school or not, or whether the child is in preschool or in the upper grades (Coleman 1966;Epstein 1991a; Stevenson & Baker 1987; de Kanter, Ginsburg, & Milne 1986; Henderson & Berla 1994; Keith & Keith 1993; Liontos 1992; Walberg, n.d.)
The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children (Anderson et al. 1985).
International comparisons show the high academic success of students from Asian countries, which many attribute to the priority their families give to education (Stevenson 1993).
If every parent of a child aged 1 through 9 spent one hour reading or working on schoolwork with his or her child five days a week, American parents would annually devote at least 8.7 billion hours to support their children’s reading (U.S. Department of Education 1994a).
In money terms, if the children’s teachers spent the same time one-on-one, the cost to American taxpayers would be approximately $230 billion more in 1991 – about the same as what the American public pays yearly for the entire K-12 public American education enterprise. In practice, however, only half of parents with children under age 9 say they read to them every day (Gorman 1993).
Family involvement is one of the best long-term investments a family can make.