Research has shown that parental reading to young children positively impacts a child’s cognitive and behavioral functioning. It may be further linked to their potential academic success, employment opportunities, and future income. For populations living in poverty, frequent reading interactions with children can be an effective method of improving opportunities for success and can influence upward social mobility. This method of low-cost early education can be beneficial in the community of Watts, an unincorporated territory in South Los Angeles with the majority of population experiencing economic hardships. The goal of this study is to measure the frequency of parents reading to their young children, assess availability of reading resources, and advocate for more community reading/educational resources for young children in the Watts community.
Randomized, in-person surveys were conducted in the community of Watts in Los Angeles, CA, in the summer of 2017. The respondents were parents or legal guardians, answering questions about themselves and their child. The questions included aspects of their health conditions, environmental health, access to health care, resource utilization, and community needs. The results were analyzed using SPSS.
Many of the parents in Watts (48%, n=48) reported reading to their children (ages 0-7) fewer than 2 times in the past week, even though a majority of them (57%) owns 6 or more children’s books at home. At the same time, many children spend greater than 3 hours on electronic devices on average per day. Coincidentally, most of the parents have high expectations for their children to complete college or higher degrees, even though they themselves have attained an education of high school or less.
Many parents living in Watts are not reading to their young children frequently, and this may be caused by busy work schedules, a lack of books and resources, or simply a lack of awareness of its benefits. Even though they have high expectations for their children’s academic achievement, they are not able to practice this method of early education. Our next step can include incorporating parent education opportunities regarding reading to their children into community outreach programs, advocating for more reading activities at local libraries, and further assessing the obstacles that prevent parents from reading to their children.