In fall 2014, Scholastic, in conjunction with YouGov, conducted a 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 2,558 parents and children, including 506 parents of children ages 0–5; 1,026 parents of children ages 6–17; plus one child age 6–17 from the same household, are as follows:
The State of Kids & Reading
- Half of all children ages 6–17 (51%) are currently reading a book for fun and another one in five (20%) just finished one.
- Both parents of children ages 6–17 (71%) and kids (54%) rank strong reading skills as the most important skill a child should have. Yet while 86% of parents say reading books for fun is extremely or very important, only 46% of kids say the same.
- Three-quarters of parents with children ages 6–17 (75%) agree “I wish my child would read more books for fun,” and 71% agree “I wish my child would do more things that did not involve screen time.”
Spotlight: What Makes Frequent Readers
- Frequent readers, defined as children who read books for fun 5–7 days a week, differ substantially in a number of ways from infrequent readers—those who read books for fun less than one day a week. For instance, 97% of frequent readers ages 6–17 say they are currently reading a book for fun or have just finished one, while 75% of infrequent readers say they haven’t read a book for fun in a while.
- Children ages 6–11 who are frequent readers read an average of 43.4 books per year, whereas infrequent readers in this age group read only 21.1 books annually. An even more profound difference occurs among children ages 12–17, with frequent readers reading 39.6 books annually and infrequent readers reading only 4.7 books per year.
- There are several predictors that children ages 6–17 will be frequent readers. Three dynamics among the most powerful predictors are:
- being more likely to rate themselves as “really enjoying reading”
- a strong belief that reading for fun is important and
- having parents who are frequent readers.
- Additional factors that predict children ages 6–11 will be frequent readers include reading aloud early and often, specific characteristics kids want in books and spending less time online using a computer.
- Additional factors that predict children ages 12–17 will be frequent readers include reading a book of choice independently in school, ereading experiences, a large home library, having been told their reading level and having parents involved in their reading habits.
Reading Aloud at Home
- More than half of children ages 0–5 (54%) are read aloud to at home 5–7 days a week. This declines to only one in three kids ages 6–8 (34%) and to one in six kids ages 9–11 (17%); four in 10 children ages 6–11 who were read books aloud at home (40%) say they wished their parents had continued reading aloud to them.
- When it comes to being read aloud to at home, more than eight in 10 children (83%) across age groups say they love(d) or like(d) it a lot—the main reason being it was a special time with parents.
Spotlight: Reading with Kids from Birth
- Nearly three-quarters of parents with children ages 0–5 (73%) say they started reading aloud to their child before age one, yet only 30% say they began before the age of three months.
- Six in 10 parents with children ages 0–5 (60%) have received advice that children should be read aloud to from birth; however, just under half of parents in the lowest-income households (47%) received this advice vs. 74% in the highest-income households.
Reading in School
- One third of children ages 6–17 (33%) say their class has a designated time during the school day to read a book of choice independently, but only 17% do this every or almost every school day.
- Half of children ages 6–17 who read independently as a class or school (52%) say it’s one of their favorite parts of the day or wish it would happen more often.
- School plays a bigger role in reading books for fun among children in lower-income homes. Sixty-one percent of children ages 6–17 from the lowest-income homes say they read for fun mostly in school or equally at school and at home, while 32% of kids ages 6–17 from the highest-income homes say the same.
What Kids Want in Books
- Ninety-one percent of children ages 6–17 say “my favorite books are the ones that I have picked out myself.”
- The majority of kids ages 6–17 (70%) say they want books that “make me laugh.” Kids also want books that “let me use my imagination” (54%), “tell a made-up story” (48%), “have characters I wish I could be like because they’re smart, strong or brave” (43%), “teach me something new” (43%) and “have a mystery or a problem to solve” (41%).
Spotlight: Print Books in a Digital World
- While the percentage of children who have read an ebook has increased across all age groups since 2010 (25% vs. 61%), the majority of children who have read an ebook say most of the books they read are in print (77%).
- Nearly two-thirds of children (65%)—up from 2012 (60%)—agree that they’ll always want to read books in print even through there are ebooks available.
Study Methodology for the 5th Edition
The study was managed by YouGov and fielded between August 29, 2014 and September 10, 2014. The total sample size of 2,558 parents and children includes 506 parents of children age 0–5 and 1,026 parents of children ages 6–17, plus one child ages 6–17 from the same household.
Parents of children ages 6–17 completed their survey questions first before passing the survey on to one randomly selected child in the target age range. The survey sample was sourced and recruited by GfK using their nationally representative KnowledgePanel®.(1)
To further ensure proper demographic representation within the sample, final data were weighted according to the information from the most recent (March 2013) Current Population Survey (CPS) from the U.S. Census Bureau. The information used to weight the sample includes child’s gender within six age groups of three-year increments from ages 6–17, region, household income and child’s race/ethnicity.
(1) The survey was conducted using the web-enabled KnowledgePanel®, a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Initially, participants are chosen scientifically by a random selection of telephone numbers and residential addresses. Persons in selected households are then invited by telephone or by mail to participate in the web-enabled KnowledgePanel®. For those who agree to participate, but do not already have Internet access, GfK provides at no cost a laptop and ISP connection. People who already have computers and Internet service are permitted to participate using their own equipment. Panelists then receive unique log-in information for accessing surveys online, and then are sent emails throughout each month inviting them to participate in research.