New Harris Poll Reads Into Connections Between Family Reading Time And Achievements Later In Life

Frequent story time also correlates to stronger parent-child bonds, deeper love of reading

Feb 29, 2016, 16:14 ET from The Harris Poll

NEW YORK, Feb. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Bedtime stories and other family reading rituals have long been part of growing up,  recognized far and wide as contributing to linguistic and cognitive development. What's more, a new Harris Poll finds that frequent family reading time correlates with numerous additional benefits, both in childhood and later in life.  

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,193 U.S. adults surveyed online between January 13 and 18, 2016. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found here.

Feelin' the love

First off, more frequent reading times coincide with stronger parent-child bonds:

  • Adults who say their parents read to them every day when they were young are especially likely to report very strong relationships with their parents ("strongly agree" that they have/had strong relationships with their parents), and this reported bond decreases as the frequency of childhood story times goes down:
    • 74% among those whose parents read to them every day,
    • 64% among those who were read to at least weekly,
    • 52% among those read to less than once a week, and
    • 33% of those who don't recall their parents reading to them.
  • A separate study of 1,098 U.S. children (aged 8-18) shows a similar relationship between reading time and familial bonding:
    • Eight in 10 (81%) of those whose parents/guardians read (or used to read) to them at least once a day report very strong relationships with their parents.
    • This drops to just over seven in 10 (72%) among those who are or were read to a few times a week.
    • Among those read to weekly or less, this drops to 66%.

More frequent family reading can foster more than just familial love – it coincides with a stronger love of reading as well. Among adults whose parents read to them every day, over seven in 10 (72%) strongly agree that they love to read. This love of reading is considerably less pronounced among those whose parents read to them less often (57% among those read to once or several times per week, 52% among those read to less than once a week, and 47% among those who were never read to).

Similar trends carry through among children. Half of those read to every day (51%) strongly agree that they love to read, compared to four in 10 (39%) among those read to a few times per week or less.

Later life benefits

Reading times correlate to much more than just family bonding and a love of reading, though. In fact, reading to kids frequently could give them a leg up in many ways later in life:

  • Adults who were read to daily (31%) or at least weekly (29%) are significantly more likely to report six-figure incomes than those who were read to less than once a week or never (20% each).
  • Those read to daily (27%) are more likely than their counterparts to hold a college degree (vs. 17% among those read to 1+ times per week, 12% of those read to less than once a week and 13% among those never read to).
  • As for even higher levels of academic achievement, those read to at least weekly (13% of those read to daily, 15% of those read to 1+ times per week) are nearly twice as likely to hold graduate degrees as those read to less than once a week (8%) and those never read to (7%).

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This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between January 13 and 18, 2016 among 2,252 adults (aged 18 and over). Additional polling was conducted online in the United States between January 19 and 29, 2016 among 1,158 children between the ages of 8 and 18. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #15, February 29, 2016
By Larry Shannon-Missal, Managing Editor, The Harris Poll

About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. For more information, or to see other recent polls, visit the Harris Poll News Room.

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SOURCE The Harris Poll