New Report Issues Warning Cry about Trends in Student Reading
With summer just around the corner, the newly released Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report™
- a biannual study of children's and parents' attitudes and behaviors about reading - sounds a warning cry to educators and parents alike about concerning trends in reading frequency, reading enjoyment, and reading for fun.
• The percentage of parents who say their child does not spend enough time reading for fun has increased since 2010 across all age groups of children (36 percent in 2010 to 49 percent in 2012)
• Reading role-model parents or large book collections at home have more of an impact on kids’ reading frequency than household income.
• Building reading into kids’ schedules and regularly bringing additional books into the home for children positively impact kids’ reading frequency.
The good news: Children who read ebooks are bucking the trend by reading more and enjoying reading more, and print books still retain a significant role in children's hearts and lives.
Since 2010, the survey shows a decline among girls in frequent readers, reading enjoyment, and the importance of reading books for fun. Though boys are gaining ground on all counts, they still lag behind girls in each area. Frequency of reading for fun and for school falls sharply between the ages of 12 and 17.
However, since 2010, the percent of students who have read an ebook has nearly doubled, and ebook readers – particularly boys – are more likely to read for fun. Those who lack access to ebooks say they would read more books for fun if ebooks were available to them.
Turning Reading into Summer Fun
As we head into the summer months, in which research
shows many students are in danger of reading loss, 99 percent of parents think children the age of their child should read more over the summer. So how do educators and parents take advantage of insight gained from the report in combating the summer slide? Here are some tips from Scholastic Chief Education Officer Francie Alexander:
The Story on Storia®
• The no-cost download comes with five free books.
• Each child can have an individual bookshelf.
• Storia® includes a read-aloud feature, a dictionary, and a note-taking app.
• Parents can read progress reports.
• Titles range from toddler to teen.
•Embrace technology - gently. In introducing technology, parents need to educate their children as well as themselves. Online fan clubs and Facebook fan pages are great ways to motivate young readers, provided parents take time to vet them - along with all websites – thoroughly. Francie also recommends educators and parents find balance with reading formats, incorporating both digital and print titles in their students' reading while recognizing each child’s preferences. "While ebooks are certainly not replacing print books, technology is a great motivating factor for many kids, especially boys. But when it comes to technology, just as we teach kids how to ride their first bike, we need to guide our children on the right and wrong ways to use technology," Francie observes. "At Scholastic, we recently launched Storia®, a teacher-recommended ereading app designed just for kids from toddler to teen. The app is a safe and fun way to explore reading ebooks and is designed to enhance, not distract from, the reading experience."
- Use tough love. With the survey showing the importance of building independent reading time into students’ schedules, Francie recommends educators start by integrating the "fun factor" and accountability into an independent reading program. And add some tough love. "The whole class reads alone together and the teacher circulates, stopping to ask a student to pick up right where he or she is and read the text to the teacher. All students will know it could be their turn. Encourage them to write down words that they don't understand and any questions they may have. Then problem-solve with them during a student-teacher conference. Also, ask kids to write book reviews for others to use when choosing a book," she recommends.
Turn Homework into 'Homefun'
• Create a summer reading book club with neighborhood friends and hold it outside in a tent, and serve some smores.
• Set up a summer travel series, and read about a new far-away destination each week. Bring it to life with food, music, and a great story.
• Instead of bedtime reading, change it up in the summertime and do wake-up reading.
• Start a “get caught reading” challenge. Give your kids a sticker every time, and award a prize for reaching a reading goal.
• Sign up your kids for the Scholastic Summer Challenge, where they can log their reading minutes to win prizes and help set a new world record for summer reading.
- Get kids hooked on an author or series. With series books high on the list of titles most recently read, Francie suggests “getting kids hooked on a series, favorite author, or favorite character is a great way to get them excited to read more books for fun. From The Baby-Sitters Club to Goosebumps, to Harry Potter and The 39 Clues, we see series captivating and motivating kids to read more and more."
- Go to trusted sources for book recommendations. The survey identifies parents as a key source for finding books to read, particularly for younger children. Teachers and librarians are also standard go-to sources. A new resource on Scholastic's Common Core website provides booklists where educators and parents can find right-fit books for their readers.
- Read aloud to children of all ages. The report shows a precipitous drop in parents reading to children ages 9 to 11 vs. those reading to children 6 to 8. But isn’t that a good thing? Not according to research by Thomas Sticht included in the Common Core State Standards (Appendix A). “Children's listening comprehension is greater than their reading comprehension until middle school, and young children who hear more words through reading aloud have larger vocabularies than their classmates by the time they enter kindergarten,” Francie says. "So reading to older children is just as important as reading to the younger-aged kids." A new Scholastic read-aloud program called Knowledge Quest offers re-curated book bundles designed for reading aloud in school and home.