Parental influence on book reading of children

Timo Toivonen


The impact of parents on the reading of children has been studied quite intensively. Impacts of social class and impacts of the cultural capital of parents on their children’s reading have been popular topics. However, studies from the time use perspective have been rare: how strong is parental influence? This research focuses on just that. The general hypothesis was that the power of parental example is strong but also dependent on different characteristics of parents and child. Data came from two recent Finnish time use surveys from the years 1999–2000 and 2009–2010. Households of different-sex parents and one child were included. It was found that time used of both parents on book reading was the most important factor in parental influence, whereas, for instance, the impact of cultural capital was almost non-existent. Interestingly, there were gender differences in influence. For instance, the impacts of parents were dependent on the gender of the child. The time the daughter used on book reading is especially dependent on the father’s time used on book reading, but not so much on the mother’s time. Reasons for these rather surprising observations on the basis of Finnish are also discussed.

Keywords: book reading of children, book reading of parents, cultural capital, parental influence, gender influence, paid work influence

Published in Research on Finnish Society