Indian parents would rather read books from their own childhood to children than choose new titles: survey

Nearly two-thirds of parents in India, just like their global counterparts, would rather read their children books they enjoyed in their own childhood, rather than choosing newer titles, according to new research from Oxford University Press (OUP).

The research which was part of a national survey carried out following an OUP study which gathered the opinions of 4,000 parents in the UK, Australia, Hong Kong and China.

During the research, when asked what their favorite book or author to read to their child was, parents named classic stories from the Harry Potter series by Enid Blyton and JK Rowling. The Panchatantra fable series has also proven popular.

Research has also revealed the power of reading to help young people make sense of the world around them. Over 75% of parents surveyed in India see reading to their child as an opportunity to discuss difficult or sensitive topics with them and 85% look for books that teach their child about wider society or have a meaningful message in their heart.

In the global study, nearly four in 10 parents (37%) said they don’t know how to find the latest books, and almost half (47%) would rather read books to their child than look for something new.

It’s not just parents who prefer familiar books: six in 10 (56%) said their children preferred them to revisit the same books at story time, and half (48%) of those whose children read independently said their children preferred to read books for themselves, according to the survey. Parents interviewed in India expressed a similar sentiment. However, over 70% of these parents would rather read physical books to their children than audiobooks or websites.

Nigel Portwood, CEO of Oxford University Press, said: “We all recognize the importance of reading and the positive impact it can have on a child during key developmental years. It’s an opportunity to bond with family, while opening people’s eyes to new worlds and new ideas. It’s wonderful that family favorites continue to be loved and enjoyed by parents and children alike. However, reading is also a valuable tool for helping young people understand current and future societal issues. It is clear that more needs to be done to help parents access reading material at home, including helping them identify new titles that they can read alongside family favourites, to ensure that all children enjoy the benefits that reading has to offer.

Sumanta Datta, Managing Director of Oxford University Press India (OUPI), added, “Reading is considered an important life skill, which goes beyond improving a child’s vocabulary or grammar. Books serve as children’s window to the world, allowing them to explore and discover the nuances of society and culture. However, the gaps in expected reading levels have widened due to the pandemic. At OUP, we are committed through our products and book titles to helping parents, teachers and children overcome challenges and instill an inherent love for reading. We hope to encourage children as they embark on their journey to becoming lifelong readers and reaping its myriad benefits.

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