Strengthening parents, supporting children – 3 demands to the Children’s Commission in the German Bundestag

At the expert discussion of the Children’s Commission in the German Bundestag on the topic “Factors that can determine educational and developmental opportunities: Parental home”, Dr. Jörg F. Maas called for more attention to be paid to reading aloud.

Children who are read to at an early age learn to read more easily themselves later on and achieve better grades in all subjects at school. This is confirmed by figures collected as part of the “Reading to Children”-Report by DIE ZEIT, Stiftung Lesen and Deutsche Bahn Stiftung.

In order to empower parents, the Managing Director of Stiftung Lesen calls for three main actions:

We have to get away from the idea that reading is just a romantic leisure activity. We need to create easier access to reading materials, for example, with book gifts at pediatricians or affordable options at discount stores. And we need to encourage parents to read aloud in their native languages as well.

Many people are not aware of the significant impact of reading aloud. The survey results from the “Reading to Children”-Report show that around 37 percent of parents rarely or never read to their children. With this disadvantage, children then start in classes that are far too larger with far too few teaching staff and are expected to catch up in the shortest possible time, even though the individual needs of the children cannot be addressed at all.

Yet reading aloud is crucial for child development. It creates the conditions for children to learn to read more easily later on, fosters creativity and empathy, strengthens the parent-child bond, and more. Nevertheless, four out of ten families rarely or never read aloud. Reasons include a lack of reading materials in the home and a lack of knowledge about the impact of reading aloud. Book gifts and awareness-raising efforts by trusted individuals are therefore particularly important.

During the expert discussion at the Children’s Commission in the German Bundestag, Dr. Jörg F. Maas represented the work of Stiftung Lesen and presented three demands that also reflect the foundation’s project work:

  1. Reading is not a romantic hobby but the foundation for a successful (professional) life and an economic factor. This must also be reflected in media coverage.
  2. Access to reading materials must be simplified: Book gifts have been proven to make a difference in parents’ reading aloud behavior, and comics, magazines, and reading apps are excellent entry-level media.
  3. Native languages are valuable resources and boost the confidence of parents reading aloud: Reading material in many languages makes it easier to start reading aloud and complements borrowing systems in daycare centers and elementary schools.

Einfach Vorlesen – simply read aloud with the app

Reading aloud made easy? With the stories app from Stiftung Lesen, it’s very simple. Every Friday from 12 PM, there are three new stories – for children aged 3, 5, and 7. They can be accessed by parents and readers on smartphones, tablets, or laptops via the website or the “einfach vorlesen!” app. More information: www.einfachvorlesen.de.

Reading Start 1–2–3

Whether from friends or others: more books in the household lead to more reading aloud. Book gifts and awareness-raising efforts by trusted individuals are therefore particularly important – both of which are combined in the “Reading Start 1–2–3” program of Stiftung Lesen, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Through this, pediatric practices and libraries receive reading sets to pass on to parents of children aged 1 to 3. The goal is to make (pre-)reading an integral part of family life and thereby give children the best possible start in (educational) life. More information for parents, medical practices, and libraries is available on the website www.lesestart.de.

You can watch the expert discussion (in German) HERE.