Reading Ranks as the Top Daily Activity Moms Spend Doing with Their Child

Eight in Ten Moms Started Reading to Their Child before Their First Birthday

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

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.

For more information on this press release, please contact:

Nicolas Boyon
Senior Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs
(646) 364.7583
nicolas.boyon@ipsos.com

OR

Rebecca Sizelove
Senior Research Manager
Ipsos Public Affairs
(212) 584.9253
rebecca.sizelove@ipsos.com

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Reading Ranks as the Top Daily Activity Moms Spend Doing with Their Child

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NicolasBoyon Nicolas Boyon
Senior Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs
Work+1.646.364.7583

RebeccaSizelove Rebecca Sizelove
Associate Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs
Work+1.212.584.9253