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Parents Say Reading Not a Summer Priority for Children

Only 17 percent of parents believe reading is a top summer priority for their children.

That’s according to Reading is Fundamental (RIF) and Macy’s, which released a survey regarding parents’ attitude’s towards reading Wednesday.

The survey also showed that children spend almost three times as many hours weekly watching TV or playing video games as they do reading during the summer.

Kathryn Heffernan, Pittsburgh’s RIF assistant director of communications and development, said accessibility to books is one of the issues.

According to her, about 66 percent of kids in low-income homes in the United States don’t have any age-appropriate books in their homes.

“A lot of parents actually tell us that they can’t, they don’t have the budget to buy books, they don’t have the opportunity to bring books into their children’s homes,” Heffernan said. “And that this is one of the only programs that actually allows them to do that, and so we get wonderful feedback from parents who tell us that their kids are reading and things like that as well.”

RIF and Macy’s conducted the survey in order to combat the “summer slide” - or the backtrack in learning that occurs in children over the summer.

The National Sumer Learning Association has stated that loss can be as much as two months in math for all students and two months in reading for low-income students.

According to RIF, picking up a book can help keep children’s minds active during the break.

“It improves spelling, it’s connected to better grammar, a larger vocabulary, also content knowledge and when kids are reading about things, they’re building knowledge about other subjects,” Heffernan said. “So if they’re reading a book about snakes, practicing reading but they’re also learning about snakes in the process, so it connects across all academic disciplines.”

The study also showed that children spend about 17.4 hours a week watching TV and 16.7 hours a week playing outside but only 5.9 hours were dedicated to reading.

“We hear a lot that kids are going home, they’re watching television, they’re playing video games, and that just makes our work all that more important, and that makes our work with our local partners all that more important,” Heffernan said. “So we’re trying to get books into the hands of these kids so if they want to read that they have the opportunity to do that.”

The two organizations also launched their “Be Book Smart” campaign to help with book accessibility.

Customers who visit Macy’s can buy a three-dollar coupon, and the proceeds will go to RIF.  In return, the customers will receive ten-dollars off of their purchase of $30 or more.