Statistics on Reading to Children

Reading time has been facing a decline for several years, across every demographic category. At the same time, time spent watching tv or playing video games increased significantly compared to reading time, especially for the younger generations.

We decided to investigate how much time adults spend reading to or with their kids and how much the time spent on reading to children has changed over the years.

How much time do people spend reading to children?

  • People who reported reading to their kids during the typical day spend around 31 minutes and 48 seconds in this activity.
  • This is a 17% increase in time spent reading to children for people who engage in this activity on an average day compared to 2019 (2020 data is incomplete).
  • Since 2011, time spent reading to children for regular participants in this activity has increased by 8.16%, jumping from 29 minutes and 24 seconds.
  • The share of Americans who reportedly read to children during the typical day also increased over the years, jumping from 13.20% in 2011 to 16.30% in 2021. This presents a 23.48% increase.
YearAverage time spent reading to childrenChangeShare of people reportedly reading to children during the typical dayChange
20210:31:4817.78%16.30%-8.43%
20190:27:002.27%17.80%9.88%
20180:26:24-13.73%16.20%-10.00%
20170:30:3610.87%18.00%10.43%
20160:27:36-2.13%16.30%-1.81%
20150:28:12-9.62%16.60%31.75%
20140:31:1218.18%12.60%-8.03%
20130:26:24-13.73%13.70%-11.04%
20120:30:364.08%15.40%16.67%
20110:29:2413.20%
Since 20118.16%23.48%

How much time do men and women spend reading to children?

The difference between men and women when it comes to reading to children during the average day is interesting – while there are more women that participate in this activity compared to men, those men who do participate spend more time reading to kids:

  • Men who reportedly read to children during the typical day spend around 37 minutes and 48 seconds in this activity on a daily basis.
  • This is 12 minutes more compared to 2019 statistics when men spent 25 minutes and 48 seconds reading to children, making it a 46.51% increase over the last 2 years.
  • Since 2011, the time men spend on this activity has increased by 21.15%, jumping from 31 minutes and 12 seconds.
  • On the other hand, the average American woman who reads to children daily spends around 28 minutes and 12 seconds on this activity, which is 25.4% less time than men.
  • This is only the third time over the past 11 years that men spent more time reading to children compared to women when looking at people who engage in this activity during the typical day.
  • Since 2011, the time made for reading to children for American women decreased by 2.08%.
YearTime men spend reading to childrenChangeTime women spend reading to childrenChange
20210:37:4846.51%0:28:122.17%
20190:25:484.88%0:27:362.22%
20180:24:36-6.82%0:27:00-16.67%
20170:26:24-8.33%0:32:2420.00%
20160:28:489.09%0:27:00-8.16%
20150:26:24-4.35%0:29:24-9.26%
20140:27:3615.00%0:32:2417.39%
20130:24:00-18.37%0:27:36-11.54%
20120:29:24-5.77%0:31:128.33%
20110:31:120:28:48
Since 201121.15%-2.08%

On the other hand, while spending more time on this activity, fewer men engage in it on a daily basis:

  • 12.40% of men reportedly read to children under 6 years of age during the typical day, a 4.62% decrease compared to 2019.
  • Since 2011, the share of men who do engage in this activity regularly has increased by 14.81%, but the decrease happened in 3 out of the last 5 years.
  • On the other hand, 19.60% of women in the US report reading to children during the typical day as of 2021.
  • While this is a 10.5% decrease compared to 2019, it is still 58.06% more compared to men.
  • The growth for women in this regard since 2011 is also bigger compared to men, as the share of women who participate in reading to children increased by 31.54% over the past 11 years.
YearShare of men who read to children during the typical dayChangeShare of women who read to children during the typical dayChange
202112.40%-4.62%19.60%-10.50%
201913.00%18.18%21.90%7.88%
201811.00%-16.67%20.30%-7.73%
201713.20%-1.49%22.00%18.92%
201613.40%3.88%18.50%-4.15%
201512.90%53.57%19.30%19.88%
20148.40%-16.00%16.10%-5.29%
201310.00%-13.04%17.00%-6.59%
201211.50%6.48%18.20%22.15%
201110.80%14.90%
Since 201114.81%31.54%

Reading to kids during the pandemic

As the average time spent in household activities increased during the 2020 pandemic outbreak, so did the time spent reading to, or with kids.

  • From May to December 2020, parents spent 34.2 minutes per day reading to their kids.
  • This is a 29.5% increase compared to 2019, and the largest amount of time parents spent on this activity at laest since 2009.
  • It is the largest annual increase in this activity over the last 12 years.
  • It was also only the 4th time over the last 12 year that people spent over 30 minutes per day reading to children.
  • Men spent more time reading to kids than women during pandemic, 1.2 more minutes per day on average.
  • Men increased their time spent reading to children by 47.5% during pandemic, from 24 minutes in 2019 to 35.4 minutes during 2020 (May to December).
  • Women also increased their time spent reading to kids, from 27 minutes to 34.2 minutes during the same period.
  • This is a 26.7% annualt increase, and the most time women spent on this activity over the last 12 years.
  • It is also the first time that both men and women spent over 30 minutes per day reading to their children.

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