Parents too busy to read bedtime stories to their kids
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The study found that less than a third read to their children every day and half say they are too busy to read and that work comes first.
The findings, commissioned for an annual search for new children's authors, links the economic downturn with the decline of story time.
Child psychologist Richard Woolfson, who spoke to 2,000 parents, said 10 per cent admitted they read to their children about once a month and in London a further one in 10 say they never read to their children.
Half said their excuse for not reading was because they had been forced to work extra hours to cope with the rise in the cost of living.
Childminder Jayne Chamberlain, of Twickenham, west London, was horrified when her son's teacher told her that her six-year-old son was falling behind in his reading and that this was largely because she never read to him or read with him at home.
"I was fine with my eldest child who is now 11, I sat with her and read to her but I didn't have to work back then. It is my middle boy who is six who is missing out as I am working so hard that the time just never seems to be there," Chamberlain said.
"The horrible irony is that now a parent helper reads with him at school for a set amount of time every day. I am deeply embarrassed about this," she said.
The statistics also reveal that eight in 10 parents describe themselves as "permanently stressed", with nearly a third admitting they are more stressed now than they were a year ago, mainly because of worries about household finances.
"Story time, so key to childhood development, is under threat because of the stresses and strains today's parents face, yet it is one of the most relaxing activities for both parent and child," Woolfson said.