Survey: 33% of parents read bedtime stories

One in three parents with children eight and younger reads a bedtime story every night, according to a  survey for Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and Macy’s. Half of  parents surveyed say their children spend more time with TV or video games than with books.

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  1. Harris Interactive is listed as the polling company, and “no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.” Both of these make me somewhat wary; I’ve e-mailed the contact person to see if I can find more information on the study.

    • Mark Roulo says:

      If you dig a bunch, you’ll come up with this comment from Harris on the methodology:


      “This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Reading IsFundamental between April 8-15, 2013 among 1,003 US parents of children 0-8 years of age. The surveyidentified 841 parents who currently read bedtime stories with their child, and 162 parents who do not. Figures for age, race/ethnicity, education, region, household income, and number of children in the household wereweighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity
      score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.


      All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, errorassociated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey
      weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are
      misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure,unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published pollscome close to this ideal.


      Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in HarrisInteractive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the US population with childrenage 0-8 years in the household. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the HarrisInteractive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.”


      My summary: They have no idea how accurate their poll is, but Macy’s and RIF paid for it and they delivered.

  2. Even if the study is valid, it’s hard to know what to make of it. I don’t read a bedtime story every night. We do most nights, but if we get home from a ball game or choir practice late, my 4-year old is sometimes asleep in the car or too tired to listen. Sometimes I have my 7-year old read to his little sister. My 7-year old has been a fluent reader for a few years, so while he listens if I read Curious George or The Cat in the Hat to my little one, he often prefers to read on his own because he can read faster than I can talk (I did this too, as a kid).

    It’s also not hard to spend more time with TV for young kids. Neither of my kids loved looking at picture books although they enjoyed being read to. While we limit screen time to 1 hour/day (and many days skip it completely), there are certainly days when they watch an hour of TV but I don’t read to the little one for an hour. She spends far more time running around, either outside or in the playroom, than she does with either books or TV.