How to Give Your Child the Best Start in Life; Fewer Parents Are Reading to Their Children This Year Than in 2006, According to a Study. Education Reporter NICOLA JUNCAR Looks at the Benefits of Sharing Books from a Young Age, Which Go Much Further Than Teaching a Child to Read

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Byline: NICOLA JUNCAR

READING a book is one of the most simple and fun things a parent can do with a child.

But according to research out this week, fewer parents in Newcastle are reading to their children now than just two years ago.

Despite 2008 being the Government's National Year of Reading, the study shows in 2006, 43% of parents with young children read to them on a daily basis, but this figure has dropped to one in three.

The research was carried out by the Book-time and Booked Up campaign and is supported by national charity, Booktrust, which aims to encourage book-sharing in families.

The surprising findings also reveal that 29% of Newcastle parents never or rarely read aloud to their children.

In addition, only 4% of dads of four to five-year-olds read to their children, preferring to leave the responsibility to mum. A lack of time and tiredness were given as the main reasons which stopped parents reading more.

However, literacy experts from the city say there is no excuse for not reading to your child every day and picking up a book should become a routine, just like brushing your teeth.

Janice Hall, access to learning manager for Newcastle libraries, said: "I was quite surprised when I read the research, especially when there are so many great initiatives taking place in the city encouraging families to read together.

"We run a successful Book Start scheme, where parents are given free books from their health visitors when their child reaches six months old, and we've just ran our annual Summer Reading Challenge for older children and that was more popular than ever.

"We realise some parents are not confident readers themselves, but they really don't have to be. …