Reading to children at bedtime: ABC questions value of time-honoured practice
I question it too. All the studies show that children read to subsequently do better at school but is that a result of the reading? It is more likely a social class effect. Middle class people are more likely to read and they also have higher IQs. The question could easily be answered by controlling for IQ but IQ and social class are both largely forbidden topics in the social science and medical literature.
There is however one well controlled study here which found that NO parental lifestyle differences, including reading to children, had any effect on the subsequent IQ of the child
THE ABC has questioned whether parents should read to their children before bedtime, claiming it could give your kids an “unfair advantage” over less fortunate children.
“Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?” asks a story on the ABC’s website.
“Should parents snuggling up for one last story before lights out be even a little concerned about the advantage they might be conferring?”
The story was followed by a broadcast on the ABC’s Radio National that also tackled the apparently divisive issue of bedtime reading.
“Evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t — the difference in their life chances — is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,” British academic Adam Swift told ABC presenter Joe Gelonesi.
Gelonesi responded online: “This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion that perhaps — in the interests of levelling the playing field — bedtime stories should also be restricted.”
Contacted by The Daily Telegraph, Gelonesi said the bedtime stories angle was highlighted by the ABC “as a way of getting attention”.
Asked if it might be just as easy to level the playing field by encouraging other parents to read bedtime stories, Gelonesi said: “We didn’t discuss that.”
Swift said parents should be mindful of the advantage provided by bedtime reading.
“I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally,” he said.
Professor Frank Oberklaid, from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute said he was bewildered by the idea. “It’s one of the more bizarre things I’ve heard,” he said. “We should be bringing all kids up to the next level.”