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Parents Are Building a Strong Future for Books and Magazines: Target Study

MINNEAPOLIS -- More than three in four parents with children under eight (78 percent) read to their children every day for at least 20 minutes -- many keeping their kids engaged by acting out characters or singing passages -- according to a national survey today released by Target. Overall, 97 percent of parents with young children read to them, and 93 percent do so at least two or three nights a week, the survey found.

The survey, commissioned by Target, whose national reading campaign, "Ready. Sit. Read!" is aimed at fostering a love of reading among children and families, found that parents read with their children 4.7 nights per week, 29 minutes per night, on average. Ten percent read an hour or more, 27 percent read 30 to 40 minutes, and 42 percent read 20 to 30 minutes. Parents read their kids two books a day on average.

"Parents certainly have gotten the message that they play a pivotal role in helping children develop a lifelong love for reading," said Laysha Ward, Target v.p., community relations. "The good news is that moms and dads are turning reading time into quality time with their children, while giving them a leg up on learning and higher reading achievement. The not-so-good news is that reading still faces stiff competition from other alternatives."

Reading places a distant second to TV watching as the preferred way to spend leisure time among children. More than half (53 percent) switch on the tube if given a choice, while just under a third (31 percent) would grab a book, 11 percent play video games, and 5 percent spend time online.

Even so, all parents surveyed said reading with their children is important, and 96 percent said they themselves are the most important influence in helping their children learn to read.

The survey also found parents have adopted creative ways to immerse kids in reading. Eighty-one percent bring the pastime alive by reading in "funny voices," 39 percent of parents act out the book, 35 percent take turns turning the pages, and 19 percent sing the text of the book.

Both parents and children share the decision-making process when it comes to which titles the child will read. Three-quarters of parents (76 percent) either choose or recommend a book title for reading time, and nearly as many children (69 percent) get to select the book title to be read. Parents' own childhood favorites are often on reading lists. Nearly two-thirds of parents (60 percent) select books they were fond of as a child. The classics most often cited by respondents were Dr. Seuss books.

The Target Reading With Children Survey is based on online interviews conducted by Impulse Research Corp. in March 2005 with a nationally representative sample of more than 1,500 adults in the United States with children under eight. The results have a sampling error of +2.5 percent.
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