You may be reading this article thinking, what does it matter how many reading minutes per day a child does, surely as long as they do a bit that’s great. I have covered the importance of reading in other articles, but just reading one book isn’t enough if you want to give them the best start in life. Research carried out in 2015/2016 with over 30,000 school children found that nearly one in six students who could not read proficiently in third grade did not graduate high school by age 19.
The table here shows the third-grade children’s reading proficiency versa the percentage likelihood of them graduating high school by age 19.
So to give your children or grandchildren the best start in life you need to ensure that they are proficient readers, this means that they need to be spending engaged reading time every day. It’s important to recognise that engaged reading time is not the same as time spent looking at a page. It’s calculated based on the text’s total word count and difficulty/complexity level as well as the child’s individual reading level and overall comprehension of the text. For example, reading the same page for an hour without understanding its meaning counts as zero minutes of engaged reading time.
The table below shows how the average engaged reading time impacts on the number of words that they read and their comprehension of those words. This table is the difference in ability from grade 3 to grade 6, just 3 years. In this case, the higher-performing children are only reading an extra 6 minutes per day on average and yet it makes a huge difference to the child’s vocabulary, comprehension and performance later in life.
How Many Reading Minutes Per Day?
For a child to perform well after school they need to be doing engaged reading for 15 minutes a day at a minimum. Research found that between kindergarten and twelfth grade, students with an average daily reading time of less than 15 minutes were only exposed to on average 1.5million words. Those children who read for 15-29 minutes a day are exposed to on average 5.7million words (over 4 million more than those to read for less than 15 minutes). Finally, children who read for more than 30 minutes a day are projected to encounter 13.7 million words over their school years. The difference between less than 15 minutes and more than 30 minutes of reading a day is staggering.
The Bottom Line
To give your child the best start in life, get them activity reading materials for their age range for at least 15 minutes a day.