WASHINGTON - (June 18, 2014) - Despite research that indicates the importance of summer reading in preventing children from losing literacy skills, only 17 percent of parents say reading is a top summer priority, according to a new survey from Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and Macy's. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, also finds that children spend nearly three times as many hours weekly watching TV or playing video games as they do reading in the summer. More than 1,000 parents with children ages 5-11 completed the survey online in April.
Results of the survey are made public as Macy's and RIF launch the 11th annual Be Book Smart campaign to support children's literacy. Be Book Smart begins June 18, and invites customers nationwide to give $3 at any Macy's register in-store, to help provide a book for a child andget $10 off a purchase of $30 or more. Macy's will donate 100 percent of every $3 to RIF. The campaign ends July 13.
"Many families think of reading as eating your vegetables--good for you but not necessarily a treat. Reading is the best vacation. It takes you places you never dreamed you would visit, and summer especially is a time when kids can immerse themselves in the topics they like best," said Carol H. Rasco, CEO of Reading Is Fundamental. "Thanks to our partnership with Macy's, we are bringing more books to children who need them most and starting them on a journey to a lifelong love of reading."
More than 60 percent of parents in the survey said they do not believe their child loses reading skills over the summer. However, existing research shows that summer learning loss is a major problem, particularly for low-income children who can lose up to three months of reading skills because of limited access to books and learning opportunities while out of school. The key to helping children maintain and even improve their literacy skills over the summer is providing access to quality books that they can choose based on personal interests.
Full survey results are highlighted in an executive summary by Harris Interactive. Key findings include:
- On average, parents say their child spends 17.4 hours/week watching TV or playing video games, 16.7 hours/week playing outside and only 5.9 hours/week reading.
- Parents who consider reading to be extremely or very important are twice as likely to have a child who reads every day.
- Children who were involved in a reading program last summer were up to two times more likely to read every day. Yet, over half of parents said their child did not participate in a reading program at all last summer.
- Last summer, children who read because they wanted to were twice as likely to read than children who read because they had to.
- Despite the proliferation of e-books and digital formats, 83 percent of parents said their child preferred print books for summer reading, compared to 7 percent preferring tablets and 4 percent preferring e-readers.
"We are committed to RIF's mission of empowering children through literacy and inspiring them to embrace the joy of reading during the summer," said Martine Reardon, chief marketing officer, Macy's. "Be Book Smart offers our customers the opportunity to give back to their local community, and thanks to the collective generosity of our customers and associates, we've given 10 million books to kids since 2004."
The survey sheds new light on the importance of summer reading, as advocates across the nation gear up for National Summer Learning Day, on June 20.
To celebrate the launch of the campaign, select Macy's across the country will host Reading Circles, featuring storytelling and photos with popular book characters. Customers can also help spread the word about the campaign by entering the Be Book Smart Summer Instagram photo contest. One winner will be selected each week of the campaign to receive a $500 Macy's gift card. Visit rif.org /macys for more details.
Since 2004, Macy's has helped raise nearly $30 million for RIF. Through customer-supported fundraising campaigns, in-store events and volunteer activities, Macy's has donated funds and resources to further the message of literacy for future success. Macy's longstanding support has enabled RIF to promote literacy at all levels, from buying books for children, training educators, and providing resources to parents.