Did your child have 1000 hours of one-on-one reading by first grade?

I was listening to CNN on the radio recently and they were doing a story about politicians helping out in Washington schools by going in and reading one on one with kids and the difference that lunch hour could make to their education.

The story threw out this incredible statistic that I had never heard before:

A typical middle class child enters first grade with approximately 1,000 hours of being read to, while the corresponding child from a low-income family averages just 25 of those hours.

I couldn’t find a link to the story on CNN’s website, but I did find the statistic and the source for it on a library’s website.

“A typical middle class child enters first grade with approximately 1,000 hours of being read to, while the corresponding child from a low-income family averages just 25 of those hours, such differences in the availability of book resources may have unintended and pernicious consequences for low-income children’ long term success in schooling. M. Adams, Beginning to read. (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1990).”

That early one-on-one reading time and having books in the home has been heavily linked to children becoming learners and their success later as students.

Here are more surprising (maybe stunning is a better word) stats from the library’s website:

“Literacy Facts and Statistics

Compiled by Jeanine Asche
Youth, Family and Literacy Services Manager
San Mateo County Library

“Most of the reading problems faced by today’s adolescents and adults are the result of problems that might have been avoided or resolved in their early childhood years (National Research Council, 2000.  “Reading is typically acquired relatively predictably by children who… have had experiences in early childhood that fostered motivation and provided exposure to literacy in use. National Research Council, 2000″

“The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success isan introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school. National Commission on Reading, 1985″

“The only behavior measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home. An analysis of a national data set of nearly 100,000 United States school children found that access to printed materials–and not poverty–is the “critical variable affecting reading acquisition.” Jeff McQuillan, The Literacy Crisis: False Claims, Real Solutions, 1998. Children who have not already developed some basic literacy practices when they enter school are three to four times more likely to drop out in later years.  National Adult Literacy Survey, 1993″

“Great disparities exist among middle-and low income communities in resources available in homes or child-care sites.  Feitelson, and Goldstain for example found that 60 percent of the kindergartners in neighborhoods where children did poorly in school did not own a single book.  D. Feitelson and Z. Goldstein,  The patterns of book ownership;. Reading Teacher 89, 924-30 (1986).”

“61 percent of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children. While low-income children have–on average–roughly four children’s books in their homes, a team of researchers recently concluded that nearly two thirds of the low-income families they studied owned no books for their children. Reading Literacy in the United States, 1996.”

“60% of the kindergartners in neighborhoods where children did poorly in school did not own a single book.  The Patterns of Book Ownership and Reading, D. Feitelson and Z. Goldstein, 1986″

“A typical middle class child enters first grade with approximately 1,000 hours of being read to, while the corresponding child from a low-income family averages just 25 of those hours, such differences in the availability of book resources may have unintended and pernicious consequences for low-income children’ long term success in schooling. M. Adams, Beginning to read. (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1990).”

“Children in low-income families lack essential one-on-one reading time. A recent report by the Packard and MacArthur Foundations found that the average child growing up in a middle class family has been exposed to 1,000 to 1,700 hours of one-on-one picture book reading. The average child growing up in a low-income family, in contrast, has only been exposed to 25 hours of one-on-one reading. Jeff McQuillan, The Literacy Crisis: False Claims, Real Solutions, 1998.”

“The most successful way to improve the reading achievement of low-income children is to increase their access to print. Communities ranking high in achievement tests have several factors in common: an abundance of books in public libraries, easy access to books in the community at large and a large number of textbooks per student.  Newman, Sanford, et all. “American’s Child Care Crisis: A Crime Prevention Tragedy”; Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 2000. …”

She has more great statistics about how a lack of reading and books affects a child long after they eave school but I was worried it was getting too long and you wouldn’t read it. Check the link for more information.

So how can you raise a reader? The library’s site recommends:

1. Reading aloud to your kids at least once a day.

2. Take them to the library at least once a month.

3. Get your child a library card.

4. Take them story time at the library.

5. Be a reader yourself. Set a good example.

I am worried that my third hasn’t gotten her 1000 hours of reading time because she is the third. So now Michael and I both are trying to amp up our reading with her.

We do have a lot of children’s books in the house that have been passed down from child to child. Overall though, Michael is very against buying books. We are all about the library.

We visit the library once a week on a set day. The 5-year-old, then 4, BEGGED for a library card and told me she could write her name so she deserved one! We probably have more than 45 books out at a time – spread out over five library cards. It is hard managing all the cards and making sure we don’t have overdue books. We use the online site each week to manage the accounts. (We also get movies and music at the library and free passes to museums.)

Michael and I are both  rarely without a book on the bedside table or on the family room table. We have a large rolling bin where we keep all the library books.

What do you think of that statistic: 1000 compared to 25 hours? Does the extremity surprise you?

Looking back, do you think you read for 1000 hours to your little ones by first grade? Do you think it made a difference? Do you think the later kids suffered less one-on-one reading time or do think sibs helped out? (I am thinking that Rose has read a lot to Lilina.)

How many books do you have in the house? Do you think that would influence kids growing up reading?

How often do you go to the library? Do your kids have library cards?

52 comments Add your comment


March 22nd, 2012
3:58 am

YES mine had 1000 hours. I am all about early literacy. We went to the library every week and hauled home all sorts of books. We have had and still own over a 1000 books, at any given time. I have some of the books my parents bought me when I was a child…some are classic stories…not just Little Golden Books from the dime store ( back then). I have not been in a library for years but love BOOKS FOR LESS here by the MOG. I also love to get new releases at Costco. I am always in the middle of reading a book. I love books and could ditch the TV but never books. I always preach: READERS ARE WINNERS AND BOOKS ARE OUR FRIENDS. I am thrilled to know children who love books!

K's Mom

March 22nd, 2012
5:45 am

We have been reading to K since day 1. I will say that right now he is so active that we may only get a few pages of a book at a time, but we make it through 1-2 books a day. I do need to take advantage of library story times, but I know he will not sit still long enough to get through the entire time, so we may have to wait another 6 months or so. I am sure we will have 1000 hours by 1st grade. However, I do not think that a love of reading is a given just by reading to a child. I love to read and I love algebra. My brother is not much of a reader, but loves to build things and is a much better writer than I am. We were both read to as children at naptime and bedtime, so the reading does not necessarily make a child an avid reader.

Dolly Parton started a program in her home county in TN where every child born in that county receives a book per month from birth to first grade because of the illiteracy in that area. She has been quoted as saying this program has helped both parents and children become better readers and have access to better opportunities. What a great lady.

This is a prime example of why programs like No Child Left Behind have not worked. You cannot take 2 children who have vastly different home lives and whose parents have very different educational philosophies and expect the same outcomes.


March 22nd, 2012
6:44 am

Very interesting statistic. In answer to your question about books that you have at home, there is a study that says ‘The more books in the home, the greater the impact on children’s educational achievement’ http://www.libraryjournal.com/slj/home/885398-312/kids_with_a_well-stocked_home.html.csp


March 22nd, 2012
7:05 am

My grandchildren are all participants in Kids Ferst, the Dolly Parton effort.

I would be willing to say that most of the kids I teach (kids who are significantly behind) have rarely been read-to in their lives. About half of them have non- or minimally-literate parents.


March 22nd, 2012
7:44 am

Books, still the best gateway to knowledge, entertainment and, always better than the movie. The imagery conjured in a dated, Ray Bradbury short story still beats anything from Lucas, Spielberg, or Cameron.

Voice of Reason

March 22nd, 2012
7:55 am

I’m not much of a fan of books. My mind needs constant stimulation and words on paper just don’t appeal to me much.

My wife and kids, on the other hand, are book worms. I’m sure my daughter had 1000+ hrs of one-on-one reading time before she was in first grade and my boy, though not yet in first grade, is quickly approaching that number, especially since he has both my wife and my daughter who like to read to him.


March 22nd, 2012
8:06 am

My twins probably are close at 4. We love to read in our house! Both the hubs and I are always reading something, too.

I think it’s been a good thing, too – my girls are not yet 5 and both are fairly good readers already, to the point where they are now starting to read their bedtime stories to the hubs and I (instead of the other way around).


March 22nd, 2012
8:10 am

We have a library annex at our house. EVERYONE loves to read….


March 22nd, 2012
8:10 am

“This is a prime example of why programs like No Child Left Behind have not worked. You cannot take 2 children who have vastly different home lives and whose parents have very different educational philosophies and expect the same outcomes.”

@K’s mom, amen! Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Yes, I am sure my kids received 1000 hours. I read to each of them from birth, the last two in the womb:)! I’m reading to my little one now. Even downloaded some freebies on my Kindle. She loves it! Reading teaches kids so much. I’ve never been one for checking out a lot of books, I just go to the dollar store and buy them. I can remember my daughter going to Toys R Us and sitting down in the book section instead of playing with the toys. She just loved books!

Now, with that being said, my kids are NOT big readers! I have told them many times that they’ve proven the data wrong regarding reading to your kids and instilling a life-long love for reading. Around 7th grade each of them didn’t want to read anymore. Now, I make them read every summer and write about it. Just get through one book! They hate it. Reading to them early did help with their reading comprehension skills. They were also early readers. My oldest was reading in pre-k. I was amazed. There’s really no excuse for not reading to your child unless you don’t know how to read. Being poor (which I definitely was when I had my first in college), is not an excuse. That’s what the library is for.


March 22nd, 2012
8:12 am

I can say I am pretty sure my kids did NOT get 1000 hours, and no, it has not affected them negatively. They are Target & honor roll kids. I have a library card, just got it a few weeks ago, and I typically check out about 10 books a week, total, for everyone. As far as books in the house, we have a lot, but we also have a ton on the kindle and my husband’s tablet through Amazon. My kids are required to read at least 30 minutes every night, and thankfully they have finally found book series that interest them. They typically prefer to read on the kindle vs. paper book though.


March 22nd, 2012
8:42 am

Let’s say we start when they were 1 years old (that’s conservative) at an average of an hour every day, for 4 years, that’s over 1400 hours of reading. Sure my kids have had that. And probably more.

I’m sure it helps, but I cannot say whether it’s the end all and be all of academic success.


March 22nd, 2012
8:47 am

@ K’s mom. He might not settle down in 6 months or even a year. Just read to him while he’s playing. My son played while I read for years.

I still read to both my children. They are 8 and 11. My son is not a good reader. He has a brilliant mind and reads tons of fact based books but really hates literature. He actually has a very hard time with reading compression when there is a lot of dialogue, metaphor etc.. He just doesn’t follow.
We have a home library that I have filled with books bought at the Good Will. I always buy the award winning and classic books there. Plus we have a lot of encyclopedia type books because of homeschooling. My kids read every night before bed. Coming from a parent who has a child who does not like to read I have one suggestion. NO TV IN THE BEDROOM. My kids have no choice but to look at books at night or just go to sleep. I hate when I hear about kids who “can’t go to sleep without the TV”. That means that they are not only not reading but they are not thinking and reflecting when they are going to sleep.

@Theresa..don’t worry about the 3rd not getting read to enough. I didn’t read to my 2nd nearly as much and she is a much better reader. I thinks she said figured “well, if she’s not going to read to me I’ll have to figure it out my damn self”. She is a very good reader. Still not advanced in her reading skills but she has that love of reading personality that my son does not. She gets excited about the characters and talks about the pictures in her mind. My son looks at her like she’s nuts. (huh? pictures?)

I have to say I think the Cobb County schools do a great job of teaching children to read. Sometimes I think it is such a focus that the other things suffer. I have personally never met (through my personal life or work which encompasses a large population) a child who has not learned to read a least adequately coming out of a Cobb County kindergarten . This amazes me because I know a lot of home schooled and private school kids who don’t learn to read until the end of first or even into second grade. A lot of kids (especially boys) are slow to read. There is such a focus on it in school that somehow they are making it happen. Sadly it seems that by middle school few of them are interested. I have read about something called the “fourth grade slump”. A line of thinking that kids who learn to read quickly and early lose the ability to keep up around 4th or 5th grade because they haven’t learned to properly decode words. I don’t know if this is true but something to think about.


March 22nd, 2012
8:52 am

The argument has been made very effectively by Steven Levitt that it’s not the books in the home that make the children smarter….it’s the fact that they are the offspring of people that would buy books.

It’s an interesting discussion on nature vs. nurture.


March 22nd, 2012
9:03 am

Good point jarvis!

Take a peak at this interesting web page….fascinating things about reading! I am ALL about early literacy and love to hear about children who are immersed in oral and written language:



March 22nd, 2012
9:07 am

@jarvis – I was just thinking about Freakonomics – good point, great book.

I was a huge bookworm and not very into sports, so I hope DD is more balanced than I was. We read a lot; she actually still has books that we haven’t read yet because she likes to read her favorites over and over.

I don’t think I’ll get her a library card until she is older (at least old enough to write her name); I’ll just keep checking out books for her on my card.

@homeschooler – I am so excited because DD’s pre-K class (next year) typically has kids reading by the time they graduate (not all of the younger kids, but most). The teacher mentioned that they work specifically on comprehension since kids this age are SO good at memorization (e.g. it looks like they are reading, but they really just memorized the story – I’ve seen this at home).

Whether DD is a lifelong bookworm or a whiz at math, I don’t really care…I just want a strong foundation for her to succeed :o)

Shannon W

March 22nd, 2012
9:07 am

1000 hours sounds high to me but 25 hours is just insanely low – what a shame! It really puts the daily grind of reading at bedtime into perspective.

I tried to do some conservative estimates for my son (the younger of my 2 children) and came up with about 400 hours. That was assuming 15-20 minutes a night most nights of the year since age 2. We do more reading to him and strarted reading to him as an infant and they read to the group at daycare but the most reliable one-on-one reading in our house is at bedtime.

I’m glad I’m not the only one who worries about not reading enough to the youngest child as compared to the oldest.

We have lots of children’s books in our house, including more then 20 Dr. Suess books (we counted those recently). We go to the library 1-2 times per month.


March 22nd, 2012
10:19 am

I remember when I was a little kid, I would spend time with my friend down the street who had a treehouse. One day I went up there with him and he had a whole stack of Playboy magazines that he got from his father. While we didn’t do much “reading,” we sure did a lot of looking, and I finally learned what a mature woman should look like naked. That was the first time I saw adult naked women, and that was an “education” that has stayed with me ever since. I certainly got my 1000 hours of female anatomy study; every boy should have that minimum before first grade.

usually lurking

March 22nd, 2012
10:32 am

Bedtime reading was always our time to wind down at the end of the day. My 2 are 17 months apart – the older one started reading to the younger one pretty much as soon as he learned to read because he wanted to show off his reading skills. We did “popcorn” reading as a family well into the elementary school. But, really, I hope you are not going to start actually logging hours to make sure you meet or exceed 1000.


March 22nd, 2012
10:55 am

To be honest that 1,000 hours figure is one of the most laughable stats I’ve seen in a long time, among other reasons because it’s from a 20+ year old study that doesn’t seem to be aging well at all.

Those most likely to be reading to their kids regularly are the least likely to be at home to do so, by 2004 only 1 in 5 middle class family had a parent as the primary source of child care, less than half have any family member providing child. Meanwhile 70% of children are raised in homes where every adult member works, and not only are the adults working, they’re working longer hours than 20 years ago.

The hallmark of the middle class isn’t reading to children, it’s exhaustion.


March 22nd, 2012
11:06 am

@ Behind…perhaps this is why high quality preschools and child development centers are so critical?
It may be the only place children will enjoy a book. I have seen the insides of many and it is interesting!


March 22nd, 2012
11:36 am

RJ–what DO your kids do if not read?


March 22nd, 2012
11:50 am

@catlady, if you think not reading leaves a abundance of time open in a teenagers life, you have lost touch with what it’s like to be that age.


March 22nd, 2012
12:31 pm

Everybody doesn’t love to read. I do but I learned to love to read because my mother liked it quiet. She read a lot and gave me a book to occupy me. I taught my brother to read when he was 4 because I wanted to play school instead of go outside in the heat. He hates to read but was doing my 6th grade math in the 1st grade. Not loving to read did not stop my brother from being intelligent or doing well. He had other outside factors that ruined his education “career” early on like lack of attention and boredom in class. Being more advanced than his classmates and having teachers that didn’t know what to do with him ruined him, not the fact he didn’t like to read. Actually knowing how to read when his classmates didn’t know their alphabet caused a lot of the problems he had in kindergarten.

Gayle Baigelman

March 22nd, 2012
12:34 pm

I work at BookEnds, a literacy nonprofit in California that works to redistribute books from students who have plenty to those who have little. Our donated books can go into classroom libraries or teachers can send them home with students. We don’t have statistics for it, but we hear over and over again that, more times than not, the books sent home with students are the first books they’ve ever owned. This is a saddening and sobering truth that we must all work together to change.


March 22nd, 2012
1:26 pm

I still read to my children (9 & 12). I have no idea how many hours it totaled but it before 1st grade but it was many.

Want your child to read? Let them catch you doing it!


March 22nd, 2012
1:36 pm

@ Homeschooler I have a CCSD child who struggles with reading on level. Kid LOVES books, she is always looking at them, and working with them. She can read, but she is slow in reading the words. I notice she gets some of the ones she knows wrong sometimes too, usually substituting another word. It has made me wonder if there is a different issue then she will read some 3 syllable word I have never heard her utter before and blow my mind.

@MJG & Catlady….is there something I can watch for that will let me know if there is an underlying issue like dyslexia?


March 22nd, 2012
1:51 pm

@ Shaggy….but Cameron inspired to me think about Titanic in a whole new way. I ended up read a great deal on the subject. Lucas brought us Star Wars. Speilberg gave us Indiana Jones….I love to read and agree that Harry Potter on screen will never match what JK Rowling put on paper, but they came close. Scarlett in Mitchell’s book was so much richer a character than Viven Leigh could make real.

My point is that great writers (like Bradbury) have a gift. However the 3 directors you mention have a gift to bring us too. Personally I am glad we have both genres.


March 22nd, 2012
2:03 pm

FCM – My daughter didn’t learn to read until the 2nd grade. Her twin brother learned in kindergarten. They had different teachers and in my son’s class a class from the 3rd grade came and read with him every week. I don’ t know if that helped him or not, but I remember him thinking that it fun to read with the “big” kids. My daugher’s teacher was back to school from raising her baby and must have celebrated when she got a job because she was pregnant right away and on bed rest by January. She just yelled at the kids for the first few months of kindergarten. Luckily, they both are great readers now.


March 22nd, 2012
2:11 pm

@TMG – you should check to see if your library is a part of Library Elf. It is a service that emails you when your books are going to be due. You can set up several accounts on it. And I believe you can set up how often it reminds you. This has saved us quite a bit over the past couple of years. I also have my email account set up to forward the Library Elf email to both my husband and my children so they get the notices also and can make sure the appropriate books are on the shelf and help remember to get them back in time.

Gwinnett Library has also started emailing ‘due soon’ reminders.

We also listen to audio books which I think improved my children’s language skills and gave them a love for books/stories. Andrew Clement’s books are our favorite audio books but we also listen to older ones like Phantom Tollbooth or The Enchanted Castle.


March 22nd, 2012
2:22 pm

I read a lot to my son when he was younger but I can’t say if it was 1000 hours by first grade. I still love books and have rediscovered a love of the library. After college, I didn’t go to another library for years but now I have a standing date every Saturday morning. :-D I love that my local library is a part of the PINES system so I can borrow books from all over the state. I pointed that out to my sister in law who bought all of her books because she couldn’t find books she liked at her local library and that is now one of her favorite places as well. Growing up, my mother said I was a kid that had to be spanked because it did no good to send me to my room. I would just lose myself in a book and forget that I was on punishment. It didn’t even matter to me what I read.

My son loved to read when he was younger but he is 11 now and more into sports, music and video games. He still gets in moods where he wants to read but not like he used to. He has read every week for school and right a summary of it and I think he may just be rebelling against the reports. The teacher actually lets them read whatever they want, even comic books or Sports Illustrated but he still balks. I understand and agree that the teacher is trying to teach them good reading and writing habits before they start middle and high school. Too many kids go into upper grades virtually illiterate.

longtime teacher

March 22nd, 2012
3:22 pm

Having raised two readers of my own and taught remedial reading for nearly twenty years, I have some suggestions for readers who become reluctant readers in late elementary and/or early middle school age. There is a stage of reading where the books that are in the child’s reading level aren’t really that interesting to him or her. This is the second stage where reading aloud is very important. Check out the Read Aloud Handbook.

Also when my two children (now in their thirties) were at this age, I had to discard my inherited prejudice against comic books. Think of it as many repetitions with light weight as opposed to fewer reps with heavier weights. Fortunately at this time someone introduced us to the Tin Tin books which are much more widely available now. Also I have to say that my son then ventured off into what I considered these dreadfully dry tomes about the investment value of comics.

I didn’t know then what I later learned through trial and error when I had them raised and went back to teaching at the schoolhouse: boys often prefer non-fiction to fiction. And most of their teachers are ladies who are encouraging the reading of novels. When I was doing my graduate work in recent years, I did a lot of study about single sex education and the difference in learning styles of boys and girls. One researcher posited that in males the emotion processing amygdala is farther from the speech part of the brain than it is in females, which is why it is often harder for males to talk about feelings. He went on to say that female teachers often ask boys to read novels and then talk about their feelings or the feelings of characters. I read about one excellent male teacher who had his boys read Lord of the Flies and instead of asking about how it felt to be Piggy, etc., he had them to draw the entire island citing passages in the book that informed their drawing. Clever Clever.

Don’t give up on your readers. Try some new tacks.


March 22nd, 2012
3:32 pm

1000 hours sounds like an enormous amount, but it really breaks down to less than 30 minutes a day. I’ve worked the whole time I’ve been a mom, and I was still able to read to my kids. A couple of books in the evening, one before bed, some on the weekend. It’s not that hard. But, as a 2nd grade teacher, I can see right away who are the kids that have been read to or are taken to the library and who aren’t. Helping our kids be good readers (unless there is an underlying learning disability) isn’t as hard as we make it out to be. Read to them from the time they are very little, take them to the library so they can check out books they find interesting, and teach them that books are fascinating, which means they need to see you reading as well.

William Weil

March 22nd, 2012
4:49 pm

And when you can’t read to your kids (e.g., when you’re driving a car), try playing audio books and stories for your kids. Another great way to expose them to vocabulary and instill a love of literature. In fact, studies show that student achievement increases measurably when adding a listening component to reading instruction. At Tales2Go we excite kids to read by doing just this. Feel free to download a free 30 day trial in the Apple App Store. http://www.tales2go.com


March 22nd, 2012
5:57 pm

I’m not sure my kids had an abundance of time in high school, either, but they read a lot anyway. They had band practice, sports, dance, church activities, volunteer work, chores, theater, you name it, but when they had down time they read. No nintendo, little TV. I do think it is possible, especially if they are reading for enjoyment/personal interest.

FCM, how old is your child?

I kept my kids interested by finding books about their enthusiasms. My son was big into disasters–marine disasters, air disasters, war. When he was 5 he wanted to find out all he could about Death Valley. (Get the drift?)

How is your child on sight words? Phonics? Can she retell a story after you read it? When she does read, does she read with expression? Does she understand a story after she reads it?

Trying to get a feel for how your child is functioning now.


March 22nd, 2012
6:08 pm

@Stacey…that is funny about the “punishment”. We had to tell my older son, when sent to his room, to NOT read a book and just sit on his bed. He would have gotten involved in any book that happened to be lying around and forgotten the punishment as well. I agree with longtime teacher. I am a longtime teacher myself. Boys tend to like non-fiction better than fiction and we are constantly reading novels in school. They tend to pay attention more in social studies and science than in reading, even when we read from the book. Where I teach, we urge our 4th and 5th graders to read a million words in a year. They are astounded at this number and cannot imagine what horrid teachers they have to endure. That is, until we explain to them that a typical chapter book for 4-5th graders has 40,000 (or two books with 20,000 each, depending on the reading level) words in it. When you read approximately 6-7 books each nine weeks you will have read around 250,000 words each time. By May they have their million words. 6-7 books each nine weeks breaks down to about one book every week and a half. If they read 20-30 minutes a night, they will easily reach this goal. It is funny each year how amazed they are that they have accomplished a million words….and then some!


March 22nd, 2012
6:27 pm

My 17 year old son comes from a family of readers and was read to all the time. I am pretty sure that he has not read an entire book since they stopped having pictures and caving more than about 10 pages.

He reads the newspaper on line and articles about things that interest him but his English class is reading the Great Gadsby right now and he is SoOoo not interested.

It really is a shame.


March 22nd, 2012
8:27 pm

When the kids were small, an acquaintance walked into our family room, looked around and then said, dryly, “Did you ever hear of this new invention called a ‘library’? You go, you check books out, and then you take them back . . .?” Take them back?! What fun is THAT?! She was astonished at the number of books we had — with teachers on all sides, the kids were far more likely to receive a book along with any toy. There were always books around. Both kids, at 21 and 23, still enjoy reading — we all still pass books around in the family,and my daughter is more likely to go to bed a little early to relax reading a book as she is to watch TV at night.


March 22nd, 2012
9:54 pm

@DB.. that’s funny, reminds me of a recent incident with my daughter. Years ago I took my son to the library almost weekly. By the time my daughter was interested in reading it seemed that we had a lot more books around the house. That, combined with the fact that I tend to spend way too much money on late fees meant that we rarely went to the library. I started stocking up on great books from the Good Will and we just didn’t have the need to go. Anyway, about a month ago, I took my daughter, now 8, to the library. She was so excited and picked out three books. I told her she would need to be sure to read them quickly because they had to be back in 3 weeks. “Take them back!?” She had no idea that she was only borrowing the books. (seriously, what kind of a homeschooled 2nd grader doesn’t know how the library works?) Anyway, she refused to read the books. Said if she couldn’t keep them she didn’t want to read them. :-)
btw.. I just returned them. 4 books. one week late = 2.80. Think I need to keep going to the Good Will.


March 23rd, 2012
12:26 am

I used to do testing for a preschool curriculum company, and I remember when I heard that statistic for the first time. I was shocked and horrified, but then when I thought about it -not really surprised. Yes, my kindergartner hit kindergarten with probably far more than 1000 hours. My three year old has probably had more than 1000 hours. We read A LOT here! It’s our go-to “I’m bored” fix, and it’s my favorite pastime and always has been.

Part of the statistic when I heard it was also broken down into “conversational language” exposure -basically kids being spoken to by adults. My mother always talked to me, and not in baby talk or kid speak -but really talked. I’ve done the same, and my kids have been able to carry on conversations remarkably early. Unfortunately many of the homes where no reading takes place are also homes where the most a kid gets is, “Go watch TV,” “Drink your juice,” “Go to sleep,” -never open-ended conversational questions or explanatory discussions. Sad but true -and as many have already stated -this is one big reason our schools are failing. Kids do NOT come equally prepared. Never have -never will.

Librarians Matter | Digital Scribbler

March 23rd, 2012
1:02 am

[...] quote comes from a tremendous article by by Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, which you can find here.    Her article provides inspirational information about reading, but the most compelling fact is [...]


March 23rd, 2012
7:06 am

FCM – I agree that movies, well done movies, add a certain visual perspective to a story that many times encourages the viewer to dig deeper into that story. But in my experience, when I saw the movie first, and then read the book, I felt cheated by the movie…I wanted more, and the movie just couldn’t do it.

With a good book, my mind can (and does) paint different pictures, alternative story lines, exciting parallels, while a movie is to me, more linear, because I am mostly forced to see it from the director’s eye. I might go back and dig, but I might not. A good book always makes me dig along the way.

I do love a good movie, but not the same way that I devour and feast on a good book.


March 23rd, 2012
8:00 am

I honestly couldn’t tell you how many hours we spent reading to our three girls. What I can tell you is that we started reading to them every night from the time they were born. It started more as a way to get my oldest to sleep as an infant. We would read aloud whatever we were reading at the time (business reports, science journals, magazine articles, fiction, etc.) in a desperate attempt to calm her enough to sleep on her own. It became a nightly routine that, when she was old enough, she could pick 2 books from the shelf for us to read to her at bedtime.

From birth, the girls have always had a bookshelf in their rooms with age appropriate books. While we do frequent the library and they each have their own card, we still purchase many books for them that they can re-read when they like. As the girls get older, we pull out books for younger kids and make a nice donation pile for our local library. We gave always taught them to treat books with great care, so typically the books are in great condition when donated.

So, what started as a desperate attempt to lull a restless infant into slumber by subjecting her to our droning voices in the middle of the night has had the added benefit of creating 3 voracious readers all under the age of 10.


March 23rd, 2012
8:59 am

Child is almost 10 and in 3rd grade. She is ADHD and left handed as well. (I read some place that both of those are prone to reading issues).

How is your child on sight words? Fair I suppose. This is where she will “substitute” a word on me. This/That/Then or and/but (trying to think of the common substitutes. Lots of times she mixes up her word order.

Phonics? She does try to to sound them out. Unique came out “You Knee Q” when tried that, then again my better reader said Epilogue was “E Poly Goo” at that age (both time I was impressed they tried and bit back my smile at what they came up with).

Can she retell a story after you read it? With prompts yes. Or if she has read it a few times. More so if I read it then if she reads it to herself. I find her to be a very auditory learner especially if music is involved.

When she does read, does she read with expression? If she is familiar with the story yes. OR if she reads something then thinks oh they should be mad she will re-read the sentence. Mostly it just is a very slow cadance like she really needs to “think” what she is reading.

Does she understand a story after she reads it? I think I answered this above but she is better able to retell a story she hears then one she reads. If she reads it allowed she can tell you with prompts, but it is more of a struggle for her to remember what she read, than if I read to her. I did leave her on a cliff hanger last night at bedtime and she said but I want to know what happens now! I said then read to me and she was like “nevermind I will just hear it when we read again” which makes me think reading is more a chore than a pleasure, but being read to is a pleasure. She does like to sit and look through books. She had one about Star Wars Legos or something and it had these “block facts” she really liked so I had her read those to me.


March 23rd, 2012
9:06 am

oh one other thought….she does horrible in writing. We did talk about it, and she said she has to write summaries and 1- had no idea what a summary was 2- had no idea how to talk about a story without retelling all the detail.

SO — I picked a favorite movie and said I will give you 5 min to tell me that movie. She did, with a big smile and animation. I said ok now go write me what you just told me about that movie and a complete blank came over her. Not that she didn’t want too but it was like that side of her brain could not talk to the side that writes things.


March 23rd, 2012
9:08 am

ooops my allowed should be aloud…yes Mom does know the differnce


March 23rd, 2012
9:12 am

@Realitymom cut son some slack. Great Gatsby is one of the most boring books I ever read, in fact I don’t think I finished it which is rare.


March 23rd, 2012
12:13 pm

Checking in from Canada…went through customs at 1:30 a.m. ATL time. LONG DAY.

@ JATL…we really need to do lunch…LOL…the conversation piece of what you shared is exactly what I talk about in my venues. Children learn oral vocabulary first and it transfers: hear it, sayit, read it, write it. I grew up in a home with a lot of conversation and that was one good thing that I had going for me. I took 3 flight legs to get here and talked to lots of different people. Learned some interesting things too.

@FCM…catlady is a much better source for your question. My daughter is left handed and a decent reader…she has beautiful hand writing too. She bemoans the fact that I am a much faster reader but I tell her that this is due to the fact that I read all the time.

My son is a REALLY fast reader and has always has books on his Christmas list. He has HUNDREDS of comic books in his room and in just about another year EVERYTHING in that room will go to him permanently, as he should be finished witth school.

@ DB …love the library story. I still have the book I picked up for you. Perhaps I can see you and give it to you!


March 23rd, 2012
3:39 pm

@MJG -YES -we do need to do lunch! My schedule was not flexible, then it was wide open, then not flexible again -and now it’s reasonably flexible ;-) I still also want to arrange for you to possibly visit my younger son’s preschool. I will see if I can find your email!


March 23rd, 2012
9:12 pm

FCM–I’ve read your reply and will ruminate over it and get back to you. Too many ideas swirling in my head–headed for bed now. Catch you on the 1000 blog tomorrow!


March 24th, 2012
1:16 pm

My kids pick out books for me to read, but if I don’t like them theygetreadatareallyfastpacewithaslittleinflectionaspossible.

(The kids also know that having me watch their TV shows with them involves me making fun of anything I don’t like. The script. The costumes. The impossibly cheesy special effects. The pathetic plots.)

That way I can get to the end as quickly as possible. Alas, I can’t get my kids to listen to the books I really like such as Coraline and The Graveyard Book. Too scary.