Originally created 02/28/01

A heartening statistic



Parents come in for a lot of criticism, much of it deserved, for not involving themselves enough in their children's education.

Call it a counter-trend if you will, but data just released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that almost half the children between the ages of 3 and 5 are being read to at least seven times a week.

This is a heartening statistic, say educators. Nothing prepares or encourages a child more to read - and to learn to love reading - than to be read to at these early ages.

There's another lesson in the statistics, too. An Associated Press story on the report notes that children with two parents in the home get read to more often than the children of one-parent families.

Also two-parent families - especially middle- and upper- income earners - are more likely to curb and supervise their kids' TV viewing whereas one-parent families, particularly on the low end of the income scale, are usually more lax - using TV to baby sit.

This is hardly surprising, but the broader story is that children who are read to at an early age learn how to read faster and better than their peers and, on average, score higher grades in K-12.

This is why more parents are coming to realize that reading to kids is something concrete they can do to help smooth their education path.

But the data should also be a wake-up call to volunteer organizations to redouble their efforts to bring meaningful reading programs to single-parent, low-income families.