As a poll of teachers and parents finds that bedtime stories are dying out, an online book retailer has launched an investigation into why reading books is better for young children’s development than watching screens.
According to the findings, based on the poll of 410 English teachers and 2000 parents of children aged between two and 11, children’s attention spans are shrinking. Ninety-one per cent of teachers polled said children’s attention spans were shorter than ever in the classroom. And one in four parents of young children admit they’ve never read a bedtime story or only do so once every six months.
Proving the popularity of the screen, the online book retailer The Works has recently noticed a significant increase in children’s books sales that relate to children’s television series including: Dr Seuss, Mr Men, Horrid Henry, Horrible Histories, Thomas The Tank Engine and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
In light of recent controversy over the psychological and physical damage that watching TV can cause young children – writing in the Archives of Disease in Childhood psychologist Dr Aric Sigman warns too much TV can cause development and health problems – The Works has interviewed professionals in the field, including children’s literacy expert, Dr Sandra Williams, and the National Literacy Trust, to establish the benefits of reading books.
Dr Sandra Williams said: “Reading a book, together with the tactile turning of the page is pleasurable and a good picture book has qualities that may not be found in electronic media. What is important is the construction of the child and many good quality picture books invite active participation and involvement. Significantly the authors/illustrators leave gaps for the readers to fill. There is a tension between text and picture which invites consideration.”
Of course reading also encourages a child’s imagination and if they are following their parent as they are being read to, it helps a child to relate the printed word to the spoken word. The ability to read is something no-one can underestimate and ironically with the advent of the internet being able to read and digest information is incredibly important.
The Works hopes that the printed book will survive the digital revolution. Reading doesn’t provide ready-made answers; it leaves room for imagination and extended periods of focus. This is increasingly important in today’s multi-media world, in which the over-abundance of information can be heavily distracting.
Conal Presho, Head of Development at the National Literacy Trust, agrees: “Only time will tell if print books will be excluded from children’s reading altogether, although it seems unlikely…there is an inherent value in a book as a physical item, particularly when given as a present. We are also very aware that print books are currently much more accessible to those from disadvantaged backgrounds and printed books can be more easily shared or passed on from child to child.”
The Works is keen to promote the exploration of words, sounds, stories and writing amongst young children and will continue working alongside experts and parents to ensure the rightful survival of the book.
Find out more: Limit children’s screen time, urges expert
About The Works
The Works opened its first store in 1981 and now has a chain of 300 stores all across the United Kingdom. They are proud to be Britain’s leading discount book store. They stock books, toys, gifts, stationery and arts & crafts at discount prices, and sell over one million products every week to consumers looking for great value prices.
If you have small children do you read to them? What are their favourite stories? Let us know below…