Key FIndings

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In fall 2016, Scholastic, in conjunction with YouGov, conducted its biannual survey to explore family attitudes and behaviors around reading books for fun. The key findings of this research, based on a nationally representative sample of 2,718 parents and children, including 632 parents of children ages 0–5; 1,043 parents of children ages 6–17; plus one child age 6–17 from the same household, are as follows:

1. What Kids & Parents Want in Children’s Books

  • The average home with children ages 0–17 reports having 104 children’s books, however, there are large disparities in the number of books for kids in the home when considering kids’ reading frequency and household income:
    • Children who are frequent readers have 141 children’s books in their homes vs. 65 books for kids among infrequent readers’ homes.
    • Households with income less than $35K only have an average of 69 children’s books vs. 127 books for kids in households with income more than $100K.
  • When looking for children’s books to read for fun, both kids (37%) and parents (42%) “just want a good story,” and a similar percentage want books that make kids laugh.
  • Parents of kids ages 12–17 are more likely than kids to look for characters that reflect diversity in children’s books, yet about one in 10 kids ages 12–17 look for characters who are differently-abled (13%), are culturally or ethnically diverse (11%), and who break stereotypes (11%).
  • When asked what diversity in books for children and teens means to them, parents with kids ages 0–17 include “people and experiences different than those of my child” (73%), “various cultures, customs or religions” (68%), “differently-abled people” (51%), “people of color” (47%), and “LGBTQ people” (21%).

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FOCUS ON
Hispanic and African-American Families

  • Hispanic families look for a wider variety of diversity in books for children. For instance, parents of Hispanic children are more likely than parents of non-Hispanic children to look for books with characters who are culturally or ethnically diverse (28% vs. 20%) and Hispanic children ages 12–17 are also more likely than their non-Hispanic peers to look for books that include ethnically diverse storylines, settings or characters (19% vs. 11%).
    • On average, Hispanic families have 91 children’s books in their homes, fewer than the average of all families (104 books).
  • Parents of African-American children are more likely than parents of non-African-American children to include people of color (62% vs. 45%) in their definition of diversity in books, and are more likely to look for books that include culturally or ethnically diverse storylines, setting or characters (37% vs. 24%).
  • On average, African-American families have 67 children’s books in their homes, fewer than the average of all families (104 books).

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2. Reading Books for Fun

  • The majority of kids ages 6–17 agree “it is very important for their future to be a good reader” (86%) and about six in ten kids love or like reading books for fun (58%), a steady percentage since 2010.
  • Parents underestimate the degree to which children have trouble finding books they like. Only 29% of parents agree “my child has trouble finding books he/she likes,” whereas 41% of kids agree this is a challenge—this percentage of kids increases to 57% among infrequent readers vs. 26% of frequent readers.
  • Across ages, children turn to teachers or school librarians (51%), and friends, siblings or cousins (50%) to get the best ideas about books to read for fun. Among kids ages 6–11, school book clubs and fairs are also powerful sources of book ideas, as is social media among 12–17 year-olds.

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FOCUS ON
Hispanic and African-American Families

  • Young Hispanic children ages 6–11 are more likely than non-Hispanic children to be frequent readers (51% vs. 40%), to find reading to be an important activity (64% vs. 56%), and more likely to enjoy reading books for fun (71% vs. 63%).
  • African-American children are less likely than non-African-American children to be frequent readers (26% vs. 33%), but they have similar views as non-African-American children on the importance (55% and 55%) and enjoyment of reading books for fun (63% and 58%).

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4. Summer Reading

  • Despite conventional wisdom, six in 10 children ages 6–17 agree “I really enjoy reading books over the summer” (62%), with the main reasons being “I just enjoy reading” and “It’s a fun way to pass the time.”
  • While parents are more likely to see the value of summer reading, majorities of both kids (80%) and parents (96%) agree that summer reading will help the child during the school year. Parents say that summer reading is important because it keeps their child’s mind active and reading requires practice.
  • On average, kids read eight books over the summer; however one in five 12–17 year-olds and one in five kids in lower-income families do not read any books at all over the summer.
  • Nearly half of all parents with children ages 6–17 (48%) have heard of the summer slide—the loss of academic skills over the school break—with lower-income parents far less likely to have heard of this (38%). Teachers and schools are the number one source of this information.

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FOCUS ON
Hispanic and African-American Families

  • Families Hispanic families are less aware than non-Hispanic families of the summer slide (40% vs. 50%) but among those who have heard of it, Hispanic families are more likely to have learned about the issue from the public library (27% vs. 14%).
  • African-American families are equally aware of the summer slide (46% and 48%) with their child’s school being a much more common source of information (78% vs. 62%).

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5. Favorite Children’s Books

  • Parents say Harry Potter, Dr. Seuss, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Magic Tree House and the Chronicles of Narnia are the top books or series every child should read, and across ages, kids’ favorite titles are similar.

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FOCUS ON
Favorite Books by Ethnicity

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Harry Potter take the top spots

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