Most parents read to their children, but reading has begun to decline in recent years, according to the Children's Literature Institute and Reading Center.

- Reading aloud to children has been reduced by more busy leisure and family life, easier access to other entertainment services, such as streaming services, computer games and hobbies, Kaisa Laaksonen, Executive Director of the Children's Literature Institute, lists.

Last spring, the reading center conducted a study to find out how the exceptional circumstances of the Corona period affected children’s reading.

Nearly a quarter of parents at the time said they had read more to their children than usual.

The survey was published in May 2020 and was answered by parents of 500 children under the age of ten.

- According to the study, the lack of time is by far the biggest reason for not reading: when we were more at home and my hobbies were on break, there was more time to read, says Emmi Jäkkö, the Development Manager of the Reading Center.

The second main reason for not reading, according to the study, was that the child prefers to watch TV programs.

According to Laaksonen, the declining reading rate may also be due to the poor literacy of some parents and the declining appreciation of literacy: books are no longer part of everyday life for all families.

If parents have not read to themselves as a child, starting a reading hobby may not seem natural.

If reading is not part of the family routine, it can be difficult to find time for it.

- Many times children's hobbies are considered important.

If reading is not considered a hobby, it is easily left out of daily routines, Laaksonen says.

Even older children should read

According to Jäkö, the age of the child is of great importance to how actively he or she is read.

About 70 percent of parents of young children say they read to their children several times or at least once a day.

- According to a survey commissioned by the Reading Center, only about a third of parents of primary school children read at least once a day, and 13 per cent have stopped reading altogether, Jäkkö says.

Children benefit from reading at all ages.

The first year of life lays the foundation for later language development, which is why it would be important for babies to read as well.

Rhythmic rhymes in particular activate babies ’brains.

The development of language and literacy supports all learning. Photo: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

According to Jäkö, some parents are of the opinion that it is worthwhile for a child to start reading only when the child starts talking or can discuss the books read with him or her.

Some parents stop reading aloud when the child learns to read on their own.

Laaksonen reminds that it would be important for children to read aloud even after this.

Reading itself is initially difficult, difficult, and slow for a child, so moving from a listener to a mere reader can be disappointing.

By reading aloud, a parent can ensure that the child continues to enjoy diverse literature.

Reading aloud also shows that the adult is interested in the child and considers reading important.

Jäkkö says that according to statistics, children's enumeration most often begins to decline around the fourth grade.

- If parents receive support for reading a child and listening to stories read aloud beyond this threshold, it can be of great importance for later reading.

Develops empathy and math skills

The development of language and literacy supports all learning.

The child learns stories by listening to perceive wholes, different stories and personal characters, and to understand cause-and-effect relationships, which develops the child's empathy, problem-solving ability, and also mathematical skills.

- Thus, reading to a child is not about the child necessarily learning to read himself or herself any faster, but it creates a basis for many kinds of learning, says Jäkkö.

According to Jäkö, teachers are often able to tell, based on the first days of school in the first grade, who the children have been read.

It is reflected, for example, in the kind of skills a child has to focus and calm down on the task at hand.

Jäkkö points out that it is never too late for a child to start reading.

Slightly higher readings seem to take back time and compensate for years that have not been read.

- It is also interesting that Finland is used to thinking that the parents' socio-economic background is inherited from the child, but this can also be compensated by reading aloud: it is a kind of free way to truly influence the child's future and reduce the importance of the background.