Reading 20 Minutes a Day Research (2024 Edition)

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If you’re interested in learning more about the reading 20 minutes a day research and how this affects life outcomes for children, you’ve come to the right post!

Reading 20 Minutes a Day – What the Research Actually Says

Maybe you’ve heard about how reading 20 minutes a day with your children can be beneficial, but you don’t know why exactly this is so important.

Let’s look at the data!

16% of children who do not read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade do not graduate high school on time, many of whom never graduate at all (source).

And high school dropouts are 47 times more likely to be incarcerated than their peers with college degrees (source)!

In fact, over 60% of prison inmates are practically illiterate.

And over 70% of prisoners cannot read above a 4th-grade level! (source)

As you can tell, literacy and delinquency later in life are highly correlated!

And it seems like the earlier this practice of reading is started, the better.

Reading Together for Quality Time

Besides fostering positive life outcomes for your children, reading together is a great way to get focused time with your children.

Reading together just 20 minutes a day every day results in:

  • over two hours of quality time per week,
  • about 10 hours a month,
  • and over five solid days of quality time per year with your child!

This might not sound like much, or it might sound like a lot!

Either way, as online writer, Tim Urban, so eloquently lays out on his blog and elsewhere, the time children spend with their parents is almost entirely spent between the ages of 1 and 19.

Click the image for the NYT article in which this image was printed.

After that, children typically spend very little time with their parents.

As a parent myself, this is a tough pill to swallow.

Thus, I’m looking forward to reading regularly with my children.

Reading Together with Children – How Does It Work?

Say you’re committed to reading with your child now.

That’s great, by the way.

Now you may be wondering, how it works exactly.

Do you read to them?

Do they read to you?

The answer is that, ideally, they read to you.

Of course, this depends a bit on the age of the child.

But ultimately, it’s their reading ability, not yours, that correlates so highly with their life outcomes.

That said, they may legitimately be unable to read when they are particularly young.

At this point, I think it’s great to establish a habit of reading to them.

Hopefully, then you will also foster in them a love of storytelling and an understanding that books are a great place to find stories.

And eventually, you can transition to them reading to you.

Sure, they’ll have to start with simple reading-level content that likely won’t be that enjoyable for you.

But eventually, with committed practice, they should be able to read you almost anything.

And of course, you can step in from time to time to help them with those tricky words.


I hope this post has provided sufficient data and motivation for you to read regularly with your children!

And if you have further questions about this or another literature-related topic, feel free to comment below!

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