reading study

3 reasons why the reading gap is still alarmingly wide

New research sheds light on why so many students are not reading at grade level

Based on teachers’ survey responses, students with access to both a traditional and a digital library are 53 percent more likely to read above grade level than peers without such access.

2. Parents aren’t sure how to support their children’s reading needs

Teachers need help from parents, and 7 in 10 teachers believe parents aren’t involved enough in their child’s education. In fact, teachers cite lack of parental involvement as the top challenge to students reading more books.

And for the most part, parents agree, but they say they’re not sure how to best help their children. Better communication is a good start–67 percent of parents say they don’t know their child’s reading level, and though teachers say 30 percent of their students read below grade level, only 9 percent of parents believe their child is in that category.

3. Children don’t spend enough time reading outside of school

Teachers say students should read between 15-60 minutes each day outside of school, but most students fall short of the minimum reading expectation. Seven percent of parents say their children don’t read or look at books alone outside of school, and with more than 44 million children ages 2-12 in the U.S., that amounts to more than 3 million children who never read alone outside of school.

Gender gaps also complicate the reading gap. Parents of girls rate their child’s enjoyment of books significantly higher than parents of boys. Parents of boys also are more likely to say their child mostly or only reads at the parent’s direction rather than choosing on his own to read.

There are a few ways parents can help their children become confident readers, and teachers can pass these suggestions to parents during meetings, emails, or parent-teacher conferences.

1. Get on their level. Books are like Goldilocks’ porridge—too easy and kids get bored; too advanced and they get frustrated and give up. Ask your child’s teacher what your child’s reading level is, and make sure he or she has books at that level that are just right.

2. Schedule for success. Help kids build good reading habits by setting aside at least 15 minutes every day to read together. Encourage independent readers to read on their own for that long—and reward them when they do!

3. Take them on a book treasure-hunt. Help children discover their next favorite book by visiting your local library. Encourage them to find books on the subjects they’re interested in, or ask the librarian to recommend titles that will keep their attention. Digital libraries are a great way to get books anytime and anywhere, and some can be easily searched by topic.

4. Help them explore the world of words. Books aren’t the only thing we read. Create a print-rich home by labeling objects around the house. Create a word wall where kids can see the connection between objects and their written names. By showing your kids the letters in their life, you can help them begin to decode the world around them.

Laura Ascione

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at