New York, NY – Among moms with a child between the ages of two and six, reading is the activity they tend to spend the most time doing with their child each day, according to a survey of over 1,000 moms conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of General Mills. Over half of moms (53%) select reading as one of the two activities they spend the most time doing with their child, followed by watching TV or movies (35%), playing with toys or dolls (29%), riding in the car to get to various activities (19%), and playing sports or outdoor activities (18%).
- Mothers 30 and older are more likely than younger moms to select reading as one of the two activities that they spend the most time doing with their child (57% vs. 44%).
- Mother with a household income of at least $50,000 are also more likely than those who are less affluent to select reading (59% vs. 44%).
Additionally, eight in ten moms (81%) report that they started reading to their child before their first birthday. An additional 12% started doing so when their child was one. Few (6%) waited until the child was older, and all started reading with their child before their child turned five.
- Hispanic mothers are less likely to begin reading to their child before they turn one (68%).
- Moms who are married are more likely than moms who are unmarried to begin reading to their child at this early age (84% vs. 73%).
Two thirds of moms (67%) read to their child at least daily, including 15% who do so several times per day. Another quarter (26%) say that they read with their child a few times per week, 5% do so about once a week, and just 2% do so less than once a week. Less than 1% of mothers surveyed reported that they never read to their child.
- Older moms are more likely than those who are younger to read to their child at least once a day, if not more: moms aged 40 and older: 76%; aged 30-39: 68%; aged 18-29: 57%.
- Moms who have graduated from college (73%), those have a household income of $50,000 or more (73%), those who are married (73%), and those who are Caucasian (70%) are among those more likely to report that they read to their child at least daily.
- Moms who started reading to their child before their first birthday are more likely to read with the child on a daily basis than are those who waited until their child was older (71% vs. 47%).
Mothers utilize a variety of methods to encourage their children to read. Three quarters select books that they think would really interest their child (76%) or always have books on hand (76%). Majorities also say that they make reading part of their child’s daily routine (69%), let their child see them reading (59%) and talk about books with their child (51%). More than two in five (44%) say that they go to the library together, though just one in ten (9%) use incentives or rewards to encourage their child to read.
- Moms 40 and older tend to use more of these strategies than do younger moms. For example, 89% of moms aged 40 and up say that they always have books on hand compared to 65% of moms under 30. These older moms are also much more likely to go to the library with their child (53% vs. 32%).
Bedtime is typically when moms read to their child, selected by 61%. Over half (56%) say that they tend to read to their child in the evening, though fewer do so in the afternoon (31%) or in the morning (12%).
While all mothers say that they read to their child, how long they spend doing so varies quite a bit. Just 27% say that they spend 10 minutes or less when reading to their child, over half (54%) spend between 11 and 20 minutes reading with their child. One in five (19%) spend over 20 minutes when they sit down to read with their child. The average reading time is 16 minutes.
- Younger moms tend to spend less time when they read with their child than do older moms. Over a third of moms under 30 (35%) say that they typically spend 10 minutes or less while just 18% of moms 40 and older say the same.
- Those who are reading to their child less frequently also tend to spend less time when they do so. Moms who read to their child less than once a day are twice as likely as moms who read to their child on a daily basis to say that they spend 10 minutes or less (39% vs. 21%).
Though most moms make time each day to read to their child, busy schedules (61%) and cooking and household chores (57%) are the most common reasons that prevent them from spending more time reading. Many also say that their work or career (44%), spending time with their other children (33%) and the child’s attention span impedes them from spending more time reading with their child. Few blame their local library’s limited hours (3%) or not having a library close by (2%).
- Seven in ten moms who are employed full-time (70%) say that their job prevents them from spending more time reading with their child. Hispanic (54%) and African American (60%) moms are more likely than those who are white (41%) to say that their job is an obstacle when it comes to spending more time reading with their child.
Children tend to have a wide selection of books at home, with moms reporting that their child owns 55 books on average. More then nine in ten (92%) have over 10 books at home, including 42% who have over 50.
- Moms 40 and older (58%), college graduates (49%), those with a household income of $50,000 or more (49%), and Caucasians (50%) are most likely to say that their child owns over 50 books. In contrast, moms under 30 (26%), those who are unmarried (29%), Hispanic moms (27%) and African American moms (21%) are least likely to say so.
When selecting books for their child, moms are most likely to say that the educational value is one of the most important factors (62%). Roughly four in ten also consider colorful illustrations (43%), the topic (40%), the lessons or morals (38%) and the length and complexity (38%) as a top factor when choosing books for their child. They are less likely to consider their own personal experience (31%), recommendations from others (10%), or the author (3%) to be important when selecting children’s books.
- The criteria moms use to select books vary with the age of their child. Those with a child ages two to four are more likely than those with a child ages five or six to say that the educational value such as letters, numbers, etc. (65% vs. 55%) and colorful illustrations (49% vs. 36%) are top factors when choosing a book. Conversely, those with older children are more likely to consider the topic (44% vs. 38% of moms of younger children) and the length and complexity (43% vs. 33%).
Though moms tend to have a multitude of books for their child at home, they also believe that school and public libraries ensure that that all children have access to quality books; nine in ten (90%) agree with this, including 51% who strongly agree.
- At least eight in ten moms across demographic groups agree that all children have access to books thanks to school and public libraries.
However, many (63%) also recognize that when it comes to children's access to books, there is a drastic disparity between middle and lower income neighborhoods in the U.S. At the same time, 37% do not agree.
- Moms who are married (66%), have a college degree (67%), and reside in the Northeast (72%) are most likely to agree with this statement.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted September 28-October 4, 2010. For the survey, a national sample of 1,012 mothers of a child ages 2-6 were interviewed online. Weighting was employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20 of what the results would have been had the entire population of mothers with a child ages 2-6 in the United States had been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
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