Modern bedtime: 2 in 3 parents open to reading digital books to kids before bed

NEW YORK — Many parents pull from their childhood favorites when reading bedtime stories. In fact, nearly eight in 10 (78%) parents read their children the same books that were read to them as kids, new research suggests.

A recent survey of 2,000 parents with school-age kids (ages 5–18) found that most claim to “always” or “often” read to their child before bedtime (63%), averaging four nights a week. When they do read to their kids at night, parents choose from an average of three books in their child’s “bedtime reads” collection.

Bedtime stories

While most respondents shared that their kids’ bedtime stories consist of fairy tales (38%) or adventure books (38%), others opt for non-traditional stories such as informational books (32%) or historical books (31%).

Conducted by OnePoll for ThriftBooks, the survey also found that most parents read hard copies of books to their child (68%), but a majority aren’t opposed to having tech in the mix with digital editions (67%) and audiobooks (59%).

And kids aren’t the only ones who enjoy story time — 81 percent of those who read to their child at bedtime said it helps them fall asleep, as well.

Setting an example

No matter the format, most parents want to set an example for their child by reading more (83%). Parents would read to their child even more, but cite being too tired after work (50%) and not having enough books at home (49%) as barriers.

Still, books (55%) and magazines (54%) are popular reads for parents every week, and the average respondent said they’d read three more books a week if it meant their child would also read more. Many hope that their child may follow by example, as nearly a third claim their child is more likely to listen to a book read by them versus their partner (31%).

Change can be good, according to parents who would be open to modernizing versions of classic books they enjoyed as kids (73%). Some ways they’d want to see they’re favorites reimagined are having the story told from another character’s perspective (66%) or retelling the story in a different genre (55%). Moreso, three-quarters of parents would be open to modernizing their favorite children’s books if it inspired their child to read (78%).

Importance of summer reading

“Storytime can take on different forms, all of which can be equally effective in fostering kids’ love for reading,” says a spokesperson for ThriftBooks. “It’s great to see parents scheduling time to read with their kids, and it’s especially important to do so in the summer months — multiple studies over the years have shown the summer break can result in a loss of academic skills, including reading.”

Encouraging their children to read more proves to be important to parents if they’re open to reinterpreting these classics since parents treasure their favorites, with 37 percent saying the oldest book they own is at least 20 years old. 

Parents may not need to worry about their child’s interest in reading, though, as a majority claimed that their child likes to read more than play on their tablet (72%). Fifty-nine percent said their child was eager to begin reading on their own, learning the skill by four years old.

“Summer is a great time to take your favorite books outdoors. Making a trip to your local library together and exploring its summer reading programs and book lists can keep kids’ minds stimulated with stories before they head back to school,” adds the spokesperson.

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 parents of school-aged kids (5-18) was commissioned by ThriftBooks between March 23 and March 28, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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About the Author

Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds’ Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

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