83% of parents read less than their 11-and-under children, new study finds


Modern parents have such little time to relax that they read fewer books than their own children, new research reveals.

Eight-in-10 mums and dads admit their work-life balance is so “one-sided” that their kids of primary school age consume more literature than they do.

Only 56 per cent find the time to read for pleasure because of work commitments and a round-the-clock “email dependency”, a survey has found.

Of those, two-thirds struggle to read more than a few pages each night and manage to finish fewer than 12 paperbacks per year.

Their children, by contrast, complete at least 10 times as many thanks to reading lessons, homework and bedtime stories.

The poll of 500 parents with pre-High School children was commissioned by the Italian author and academic Giuseppe Cafiero.

Giuseppe Cafiero

He said the study’s findings suggest a “parent reading crisis” and reflect the mounting pressure placed on employees.

“Clearly, the huge work and financial pressure that parents are under is taking its toll and preventing them from relaxing or having any kind of ‘me’ time,” he said.

“If the results of this straw poll are anything to go by, Britain – and possibly the rest of the world – is facing a parent reading crisis, where mums, dads and carers are consuming far less real literature than their young children.”

Before having children, 76 per cent of those questioned described themselves as “avid readers”, with the majority (68 per cent) reading one or two books each month.

The number of keen readers dropped to just 15 per cent after having children, largely because of time constraints caused by housework, tiredness and a lack of spare time generally.

Some 98 per cent said work commitments, such as “working late into the night” and checking emails prevented them from reading for fun.

After having children, only 15 per cent of respondents said they had the time to read more than one book per month.

The overwhelming majority (64 per cent) admitted they read less than one book per month, with an average page count of just three per night.

When questioned about the types of literature they read on a daily basis, material listed included emails and work documents (94 per cent), magazines (78 per cent) and newspapers (83 per cent).

All respondents also read children’s books to or with their kids.

But only 56 per cent said they had the time to read fiction or non-fiction books for adults.

In total, 83 per cent said their children read more – and more often – than they did. Their children read more than 10 books each month, respondents said.

Giuseppe Cafiero is the author of more than 10 novels focused on the lives of great writers, including Gustave Flaubert: The Ambiguity of Imagination and Mário De Sá-Carneiro: The Ambiguity Of A Suicide.

He added: “There is a big difference between reading for work and for pleasure.

“One is a tried and tested form of enjoyment and relaxation, and the other increases stress levels and anxiety.

“We must all find or make time for ourselves – it’s about work AND play.”


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