New Research on Kids and Reading

Reading is the key to learning, as reading is a part of every subject. Here’s the latest research on kids and reading.

Children Read Paper Books More

In a study of Australian children in 4th and 6th grade looked at their reading habits and access to devices with reading capability (e.g., Kindles, iPads, and mobile phones). While many tend to think of younger people as being “digital natives” who prefer to read on screens, the study found that students tended not to use devices for recreational book reading even when they were daily book readers. In addition, the more access children were given to devices, the less they read. The reasons behind these effects are due in part to the greater opportunity to be distracted on a device, with the immediate rewards of playing a game easily outweighing the long-term benefits of reading even among regular readers.

Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report

Every two years, Scholastic releases the Kids & Family Reading Report, a survey of a nationally representative sample of parents of children ages 0 to 5, parents of children ages 6 to 17, and one child age 6 to 17 from the same household as a parent surveyed. The survey focuses on five areas:

  • What kids and parents want in children’s books
  • Reading books for fun
  • Reading aloud
  • Summer reading
  • Favorite children’s books

Among the key findings of the survey are that access to books in the home is strongly correlated both with reading frequency and with household income, with frequent readers (reading for fun 5 to 7 days per week) having more than twice as many books at home as infrequent readers (reading for fun less than 1 day per week). In addition, 65% of children agree with the statement, “I’ll always want to read books printed on paper even though there are eBooks available.”

Children’s favorite books tend to be those that they have picked out themselves, and those are also the books that they are most likely to finish. While 29% of parents say that their kids need help finding books to read for fun, children report struggling to find books they like at a much higher rate. 41% say they have trouble finding books, and that percentage is higher for infrequent readers (57%), boys (45%), and older children (44% for ages 12 to 14 and 45% for ages 15 to 17).

More parents report reading aloud to their child between the ages of 0 and 5 and doing so more frequently than in the 2014 report. Reading aloud together is enjoyed by both parents (82%) and kids (87%) ages 6 to 11. Yet the frequency of reading aloud drops dramatically from 59% of families with kids aged 0 to 5 to 38% of families with kids ages 6 to 8 to 17% of families with kids ages 9 to 11.

Both parents and kids agree that summer reading is important, with kids enjoying summer reading as a fun way to pass the time or just because they enjoy reading. Regarding the “summer slide” of children slipping back from what they learned in school over the summer months, only 48% of parents were aware of it. Low income families were less likely to be aware of the summer slide. Parents who were aware of the summer slide said that teachers and schools were their number one source of information on it.

Among the favorite books listed by kids and parents were classics like Dr. Seuss’s works and The Chronicles of Narnia. However, newer series were also quite popular, including the Magic Tree House series, the Harry Potter series, and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

What Kids Are Reading Report

Renaissance®, the maker of the Accelerated Reader 360® platform, uses information compiled from the data it collects to identify trends in student reading. Among the key findings of the 2017 report:

  • Girls continue to lead boys by 23% in total words read.
  • Increasing reading to 30 minutes per day from kindergarten through high school can mean exposure to 8 million more words compared to students who only read 15 minutes per day.
  • Struggling students who increase their daily reading practice with high comprehension and significant vocabulary exposure can surge ahead of their peers who don’t increase their reading.
  • While To Kill a Mockingbird and Dr. Seuss continue to be popular, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid has become popular with kids in grades 4 through 8, while The Hunger Games series continues to be popular among high school students.

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