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Education Worldwide

PISA study: Let's read them a story


Reading to young children leads to better reading performance at age 15

Reading to children in pre-school and primary school years leads to better reading scores in the PISA reading test compared to children whose parents had not read to them. This shows the OECD study Let’s Read Them a Story! The Parent Factor in Education.

This relationship is especially strong among the tested 15-year-old students in Germany as well as New Zealand. Students of these countries scored higher by 51 points and 63 points, respectively. To compare: 39 points equal one school year. Reading books to children still relates to better reading performance at age 15 even when accounting for different as well as comparable socio-economic backgrounds. However, socio-economically advantaged parents were more likely to engage with their children in ways that are associated with positive outcomes.

Parent-child activities such as telling stories or singing songs also helped to develop an enjoyment of reading in children. Those children, too, performed better in the PISA test compared to children whose parents had not engaged with them in this way. This is especially true for children from Denmark, Germany, Hungary and New Zealand.

Parental engagement varies widely, from around 75% of parents reading books to their children in New Zealand compared to 51% in Hong Kong. Confirming other studies in this field, fathers are less likely than mothers to engage with their young children in most of the activities the study looked at. This is true for most countries and economies.

The good news according to the study is that parents do not need a PhD nor unlimited hours. For instance, even just reading at home benefits children, as this shows them that their parents value this kind of activity.

This study uses data from questionnaires given to student’s parents during the PISA study 2009. Parents from thirteen countries answered questions with regard to the educational background, profession, income level as well as the role of reading and reading habits at home.

Image source and more information:

OECD (2012), Let's Read Them a Story! The Parent Factor in Education, PISA, OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264176232-en



PISA study: Let's rea..