AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new survey in Central Texas found 50 percent of parents are not reading to their child every day.
Just last week, the nonprofit, BookSpring wrapped up its first “Central Texas Reading Survey” consisting of 600 people from six counties in our surrounding area including Travis, Bastrop and Williamson counties.
The goal was to explore reading habits and learn more about book access for families with children up to 12 years old. It found nearly 60 percent of families have fewer than 20 books. That’s a number the nonprofit’s executive director, Emily Ball Cicchini, says they’ve discovered from research showing a minimum of 20 books in the home could mean three more years of education in the long run.
Cicchini, Executive Director of BookSpring says “it predicts educational success. It predicts income level. It predicts being a productive member of society and not ending up with a criminal situation or a drug addiction.”
Another finding focused on mobile devices. According to the survey, about 50 percent of children play on smartphones and tablets more often than they are reading. Those at BookSpring say they’re not against smart devices being in the home, but want to remind families about the importance of having a physical copy of your favorite book.
“Digital literacy and print literacy are different. They’re both important. But we don’t really know what’s going to happen to society if we lose that print literacy,” said Cicchini.
“Parents uniformly realize that reading to their kids and encouraging their children to read is a positive thing,” said James Henson from Strategic Research Associates, “Many of them had trouble making time to do that or getting the resources in their hands to do that.”
“When you read with print it’s sequential and it’s closed and it’s focused,” said Cicchini. “When you read with digital, it’s flying by and you’re searching for information and there’s probably a good reason to have both kinds of literacies — the print and digital. We’re just saying, don’t just have the digital literacy without remembering the importance of a sustained closed reading through print.”
BookSpring says its goal is to provide every family in need with 20 books by 2020.
According to research by E3 Alliance, less than half of our students are school ready, and one of the largest gaps in Kindergarten readiness is emerging literacy. That number drops down even further when you take a look at it by income.
Last month we reported that only 52% of African-American students in kindergarten through second grade were reading at or above grade level. For Hispanic students that came in at 62%. When it comes to poor students, 58% are at or above grade level.
This is a local snapshot of a statewide trend. Test scores show a growing percentage of students in Texas have poor reading skills.