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We still love our books - and reading to our children

10 Mar 22

We still love our books - and reading to our children
eight out of 10 parents are reading to their children each week

The latest research on New Zealanders' reading habits confirms that we remain a nation of readers, and one that loves to read to our children.

The Horizon survey for Read NZ Te Pou Muramura, conducting in October 2021, finds 

  • 82% of parents of young children read with them at least once a week and usually at bedtime.
  • Around a third reported their children under 10 years of age had a particular book they liked to be read repeatedly, while
  • 55% said they wished they had more time to read to their kids.

Read NZ says:

The National Reading Survey follows our similar studies in 2017 and 2018. Since then, the number of adults who read or started to read at least one book in the past 12 months dropped slightly, from 86% to 85%.

Meanwhile, 94% of 10–17-year-olds read at least one book, down from 97% in 2018.

The numbers of New Zealand women reading have remained the same since 2018 but men’s reading rates continued to drop, with 79% picking up a book in the past year, compared to 81% in 2018 and 84% in 2017.

Barriers to reading

42% of respondents who had read none or just a few books in the past year said their barrier to reading was lack of time, mostly due to work and whānau responsibilities, with 9% indicating that they found other media, such as television and podcasts more enjoyable.

However, respondents who did pick up a book said that reading brought pleasure and enjoyment and helped them to relax after a busy day.

While maintaining the questions asked in previous surveys, this year’s research had a wider scope, asking questions about languages read, how lockdowns and the ongoing pandemic have affected our habits, and reading’s importance to personal wellbeing.

Children and reading

An expanded section on reading with children revealed that 39% of respondents who had children under 10 years of age living in their household made time for reading with them every day, while 82% read with their children at least once a week.

We read our own stories

Read NZ says:

We also continue to enjoy our own stories. 44% of all adult respondents said they had read or started to read at least one book by a New Zealand author or poet in the past year.

Readers of local poetry were nearly twice as likely to be male than female, but the incidence of poetry reading declined with age.

Libraries popular

Public libraries remain the most popular place to find any type of book, closely followed by bookshops and second-hand bookshops.

Juliet Blyth CEO, Read NZ Te Pou Muramura, says of the findings:

"It’s wonderful that Kiwis love to read and especially with our tamariki. But it’s concerning to see that men’s reading rates have dropped again since our 2018 survey.

"We note that a lack of time remains a major barrier to reading for pleasure, especially for those aged 25 to 50. Many parents know the benefits of reading with their children, but there are 8% who don’t make time to do so. This research is the latest snapshot of the reading landscape in Aotearoa New Zealand. We will continue to work to ensure we all keep reading because we believe it makes life better."

Click here to download the full report.