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Study on Reading Aloud 2012


Representative survey - digital media open new opportunities for reading aloud

On 30 October 2012, the representative study Digital reading products – new incentives for reading aloud? conducted by the weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT, Stiftung Lesen and Deutsche Bahn was released in Berlin. The findings were presented by Dr. Jürgen Grube, Chairman and CEO of Deutsche Bahn AG, Moritz Müller-Wirth, deputy editor-in-chief and features editor of DIE ZEIT, Dr. Jörg F. Maas, Managing Director of Stiftung Lesen, and Dr. Simone C. Ehmig, Head of Institute for Research on Reading and Media of Stiftung Lesen. The presentation of the study also comprised the launch of the 9th National Reading Aloud Day that will take place on 16 November 2012.

The study assesses the impact of digital media, such as tablets, smartphones and e-readers, on families’ habits of reading aloud. 500 parents with at least one child aged 2 to 8 were interviewed. So far, one in seven of these families have already made use of picture book and children’s book apps. The key findings are as follows: electronic media do not replace, but rather complement conventional children’s books. They also help to reach out to families with an underprivileged educational background and provide them with new material for reading aloud. These new digital reading products may also help to motivate fathers, who read aloud significantly less often than mothers. “The study shows some surprising results with regard to the acceptance and use of digital reading media,” summarises Dr. Simone C. Ehmig. “They offer new opportunities and approaches for promoting reading.”

Almost 90 percent of all parents, who participated in the survey, said that picture book and children’s book apps are a great supplement but that they by no means replace the printed book. “This generation of parents integrate the new technology into day-to-day routines with their children. Picture book and children’s book apps enable parents to read to their children in situations and locations that used to be less suitable for reading aloud,” says Dr. Rüdiger Grube. “In short, books are for cuddling while apps are for train journeys or waiting rooms.”

Digital material for reading aloud offers new opportunities to reach out to families who have attached only little importance to reading and reading aloud. With 74 and 27 percent respectively, the percentage of smartphones and tablet computers found in households with lower education levels is similar to that of families with higher education levels (81 and 26 percent).

Fathers read to their children considerably less often than mothers. However, they use electronic media more often. The recent study on reading aloud shows that fathers who have already read aloud with both electronic devices and books for reading aloud, tend to use digital products for reading twice as often as books (40 and 23 percent, respectively). With mothers, it is exactly the opposite (20 and 45 percent). “Digital media may help to reduce the fathers’ deficit in reading aloud to their children. Unfortunately, these figures confirm clichés,” says Moritz Müller-Wirth. “Since one in five fathers who rarely or never read to their children are open to reading from apps.”

About half of the participants in the survey, who have not yet used apps for reading to their children, are still reluctant to do so. One of the key reasons is a lack of experience with electronic reading products.“ “To assess the quality of apps and the best way to use them, parents require orientation and advice,” says Dr. Jörg F. Maas. “We will expand our programmes and projects accordingly. Reading with digital media and media competence must be at the heart of reading promotion in the future. Digitisation does not actually mean the elimination of reading or reading aloud. On the contrary: it enhances the reading experiences and offers new chances to promote reading.”

Every year, a study on reading aloud is released in the run-up to the National Reading Aloud Day. The most recent study Digital reading products – new incentives for reading aloud? is the sixth study by the initiators, dealing with the situation of reading aloud in Germany. Volunteers dedicated to supporting this reading aloud project may register with the National Reading Aloud Day website or the Stiftung Lesen website.

PDF: Study on Reading Aloud 2012 (2,7 MB).



Study on Reading Alou..