TOKYO — About half of children in a survey released ahead of Japan’s fortnight-long “book weeks” said they didn’t read books at all, while children who read more were found to be confident of their academic ability.
Benesse Educational Research and Development Institute analyzed the results of the survey, which targeted around 20,000 families with elementary to high school children, and announced the results ahead of Japan’s two-week book promotion event running from Oct. 27 to Nov. 9. The survey has been conducted jointly with the Institute of Social Science at the University of Tokyo since 2015.
The results showed that children read an average of 15.2 minutes per day in 2022, down three minutes from 2015. By gender, boys read for 13.7 minutes and girls for 16.4 minutes a day on average.
About half of the children, at 49%, answered that they read for “zero minutes” per day. The percentage of children who answered “zero minutes” was 30.2% for first to third graders, 45.5% for fourth to sixth graders, 53.5% for junior high school students and 66.7% for high school students, showing that the higher the grade, the less children tended to read.
In terms of the number of books in the household collection, 29.4% of children in families with 100 or more books answered that they read for “zero minutes.” The proportion increased to 35.3% of children in families with 30 to 99 books and 47.6% of children in families with fewer than 30 books, making it clear that children in households with fewer books were not reading as much.
Additionally, 34.8% of children in families where parents conveyed the importance of reading to their children answered “zero minutes” for reading time, while 55.6% of children in families whose parents did not convey the importance of reading to their children gave the same answer.
To further explore the relationship between the frequency of reading to children before they entered elementary school and their subsequent reading time, Benesse analyzed changes over the seven years between the children’s first year in elementary school and their second year in junior high school.
Children who were read to four or more days a week had a reading time of 18.6 minutes in the first grade. Their average reading time peaked at 25.6 minutes in the sixth grade, and in the second year of junior high school, it was 20.6 minutes.
Meanwhile, the average reading time for children who were read to less than once a week was 8.8 minutes in the first grade, 16 minutes at their peak in the fifth grade, and 11.3 minutes in the second year of junior high school.
It also emerged that children who got into the habit of reading at an early age were more likely to continue reading later on. Children who had read for 67.9 minutes a day in the first grade still had time to read in the second year of junior high school.
Children who read more seemed to have less difficulty in learning. More children with higher reading times answered that they were “good” at understanding diagrams and tables, thinking logically, reading and understanding long passages, and summarizing their thoughts in writing than their counterparts who read less.
(Japanese original by Yuko Shimada, Business News Department)