Reading is an activity enjoyed by many, and widely held to be an essential component for success in education. Therefore, educators and policy-makers have been keen to promote an appreciation for, and engagement in, reading by children.
Reflecting this, the National Year of Reading 2012 seeks to support “... children learning to read and keen readers finding new sources of inspiration.”[endnote 1] Parents, and the family context more generally, are known to play an important role in helping children learn to read and in stimulating a continuing interest in independent reading.
This article examines the important relationship between family context and children’s reading in Australia, using the available data from Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC). Data from LSAC indicate that family context, according to such measures as visits to the library or reading to the child, strongly influences children’s engagement in reading. The study also finds that while the majority of children enjoy reading, only a minority are very frequent readers.About one in ten children do not enjoy reading and did not read on the diary day, though this proportion varies according to family context.