Nearly two thirds of the parents in India, much like their global counterparts, prefer to read their children books they enjoyed in their own childhood, rather than choosing newer titles, according to new research from Oxford University Press (OUP). The survey gathered the views of 4,000 parents across the UK, Australia, Hong Kong, China and India (with 1000 each) and then India was separate with just under 137 responses. It forms part of OUP’s second annual Gift of Words campaign, which aims to encourage parents, family, and friends to celebrate and share the power of language and reading, especially following a second year of disruption to education.
When asked what their favourite book or author was to read to their child, parents named classic stories from Enid Blyton and J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The results included Panchatantra fable series at6, Enid Blyton at 10 and Harry Potter at 10.
The research also revealed the power of reading in helping young people to make sense of the world around them. More than 75% parents surveyed in India, see reading to their child as an opportunity to discuss difficult or sensitive topics with them and 85% look for books that teach their child about wider society or have a meaningful message at their heart.
Globally, almost four in 10 (37%) parents said that they did not know how to find out what the latest books are, and almost half (47%) prefer to re-read books to their child, rather than look for something new. It isn’t just parents who favour familiar books: six in 10 (56%) said their children preferred them to revisit the same books at story time, and half (48%) of those whose children read independently said their children prefer to re-read books to themselves. The parents surveyed in India reflected a similar sentiment. However, over 70% of these parents preferred reading physical books to their children rather than audio books or websites.
Nigel Portwood, CEO of Oxford University Press said: ‘We all recognize the importance of reading and the positive impact it can have on a child during key development years. It provides an opportunity to bond with family, while also opening people’s eyes to new worlds and ideas. It is wonderful that family favourites continue to be loved and enjoyed by parents and children alike. However, reading is also a valuable tool for helping young people to understand current and future societal issues. It’s clear that more must be done to support parents in accessing materials for reading at home—including helping them to identify new titles that they can read alongside family favourites—to ensure that all children experience the benefits that reading has to offer.’
Sumanta Datta, Managing Director of Oxford University Press India (OUPI), further added, “Reading is considered an important life skill, one that extends beyond enhancing vocabulary or improving the child’s grammar. Books serve as a child’s window to the world, allowing them to explore and discover the nuances of society and culture. However, the gaps in expected reading levels have become wider as a result of the pandemic. We at OUP are committed through our products and book titles to aide parents, teachers and children, overcome challenges and inculcate an inherent love for reading. We hope to encourage children as they embark on their journey of becoming life-long readers and reap its innumerable benefits.”
Other key insights from the research include:
- The top three reasons parents cited for reading to their child were building a love for learning and reading, improving literacy and vocabulary, and developing communication skills.
- 78% of parents surveyed in India said that reading to their child helps them to bond and connect, and 83% wish they had more time to read to their child. Both these results were significantly higher than their global counterparts, highlighting the importance placed by Indian parents on building strong reading habits for their children.
- Similar to their global counterparts, parents surveyed in India cited the lack of sufficient support materials for reading at home (10%) as a reason that they don’t read to their child. While nearly 14% stated that the they didn’t know how to find out about the latest books.
- 50% of the parents surveyed in India stated that reading for school discourages their children from reading for pleasure.
OUP has put together a list of books that it recommends to parents, to help their children learn about wider society. Topics include diversity, acceptance, celebrating what makes individuals unique, friendship, caring for the environment, homelessness, love, and loss.
- The Pirate Mums – Jodie Lancet-Grant
- The Perfect Fit – Naomi and James Jones
- Stella and the Seagull – Georgina Stevens
- A Song in the Mist – Corrinne Averiss
- Everybody Has Feelings – Jon Burgerman
- Max Takes a Stand – Tim Allman
- The Soup Movement – Ben Davis
- Bear Shaped – Dawn Coulter-Cruttenden
- Everybody Worries – Jon Burgerman