“A study of the reading practices of parents with young children in Mitchell’s Plain.”

Master Thesis


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This study “A study of the reading practices of parents with young children in Mitchell’s Plain” was conducted through a sample of five early childhood development (ECD) centres in Mitchell’s Plain. The study adopted a sequential transformative mixed method research design. Non-probability purposive sampling was used to select the five ECD centres and from that sample convenience sampling was used to select the interview participants. The quantitative data comprised of 137 completed questionnaires and the qualitative data was collected through 14 face-to-face interviews. A semi-structured interview schedule was used to guide the faceto-face interviews. Main findings: While 99% of parents felt that reading with children is important only 7% of respondents report reading with their children on a daily basis. Parents are aware of the importance and developmental benefits of reading, but do not seem to be making the time to read frequently. Overall, only 30% of respondents are reading once a week or more with their children. A statistically significant correlation between reading frequency and number of readers was found as well as frequency of library visits and reading frequency. Most of the respondents (64%) reported having between one and ten books at home while there were 8% who do not have a single book at home. No statistically significant correlation was found between number of books or parental education and reading frequency. The barriers that are preventing parents from reading with their children were found to be a lack of time, financial, environmental and personal challenges as well as libraries not being open on the weekend. Alliteracy and a lack of personal motivation to read was also found to be a barrier to book sharing. Very few parents of the participants interviewed had heard of or been involved with literacy organisations but past experiences with reading seemed to have a positive influence on their current reading practices. Main recommendations: ECD centres are uniquely placed to be able to inform, encourage and monitor frequent book sharing. ECD centres should therefore be trained in the importance of early book sharing and in turn provide training and support for their parents. Furthermore, if ECD centres were equipped with libraries that parents who found accessing the local library a challenge they would be able to offer parents an invaluable resource. Investing in local libraries so that they are able to offer extended operating hours on the weekend and more resources for children under five years old is also recommended. Parenting programmes in various forms are also recommended to provide parents with the information and support needed to encourage frequent book sharing