What kids &
PARENTS want
in CHILDREN’S
BOOKs

1

“We read aloud so that he knows the joy of stories about other places and the information about our world that can be found in books. It’s important that he learn about the world, including all of its diversity. It’s also important for him to develop a creative imagination.”

— Mother, 5-year-old boy, UT

5 THINGS KIDS & PARENTS WANT IN CHILDREN‘S BOOKS

On average, kids ages 6–17 report having read 23 books over the past year, yet frequent readers are reading nearly six times the number of books compared with infrequent readers.

Children’s Reading Frequency and Amount of
Books Read in the Past Year

Base: Parents with Children Ages 0–17

QK15. About how many books have you read in the past year?
QK6. How many days a week do you read [ADDED FOR AGES 6–8: or look at] books for fun?

On average, families across America with kids ages 0–17 have 104 children’s books in their homes. Kids ages 6–17 who are frequent readers have, on average, 141 children’s books in their homes—more than twice as many as kids who are infrequent readers.

Average Number of Children’s Books in Home

Base: Parents with Children Ages 0–17 (Left), Parents with Children Ages 6–17 (Right)

QP31. Some homes have 0 books for kids while others have more than 50 books for kids. About how many books for kids do you have in your home?

Higher-income families have more children’s books in the home on average, with households earning more than $100K having an average of 127 children’s books—nearly twice as many as households earning less than $35K.

Average Number of Children’s Books in Home

Base: Parents with Children Ages 0–17

QP31. Some homes have 0 books for kids while others have more than 50 books for kids. About how many books for kids do you have in your home?

Sixty-five percent of kids, consistent with 2014, and with boys less likely to agree than girls, say they will always want to read in print, even though ebooks are available.

Children’s Agreement with Statement:
“I’ll always want to read books printed on paper even
though there are ebooks available”

Base: Children Ages 6–17

QK12. Please tell me whether you agree a lot, agree a little, disagree a little, or disagree a lot with each of the following statements. NOTE: See Appendix D for full question responses.

Across gender and age, choice rules. A majority of kids (89%) agree their favorite books are the ones that they have picked out themselves.

Children’s Agreement with Statement:
“My favorite books are the ones that I have picked out myself“

Base: Children Ages 6–17

QK12. Please tell me whether you agree a lot, agree a little, disagree a little, or disagree a lot with each of the following statements.
NOTE: See Appendix D for full question responses.

A majority of kids pick out the books they read for fun at least most of the time (63%) and 88% say that they are more likely to finish books that they pick out.

Frequency with Which ChildREN Pick
out the Books THEY Read for Fun

Children’s Agreement With Statement:
“I am more likely to finish reading a book that I have picked out myself“

QK9. How often do you choose the books you read for fun [ADDED FOR AGES 6–11: or that are read aloud to you at home]?
This means reading books that are not part of your schoolwork or homework.
QK12. Please tell me whether you agree a lot, agree a little, disagree a little, or disagree a lot with each of the following statements.
NOTE: See Appendix D for full question responses.

About four in 10 kids and parents “just want a good story” when choosing a book for fun, and a similar percentage want books that make kids laugh.

Types of Children’s Books Kids AND Parents Look for When Choosing a Book for Fun

Base: Children Ages 6–17 and Parents with Children Ages 6–17

QK14. What kinds of books do you look for when choosing a book to read for fun?
QP25. What kinds of books do you look for when selecting books for your child? NOTE: Items asked of all children ages 6–17 are shown.

While a good story remains the most important aspect of a book, characters who can be role models or who face challenges and overcome them are also looked for by many parents and kids.

Types of Characters in Children’s Books Kids and Parents
Look for When Choosing a Book for Fun

Base: Children Ages 6–17 and Parents with Children Ages 6–17

QK13. What kinds of characters do you look for in books you want to read for fun?
QP23. What kinds of characters do you look for in books for your child? NOTE: Items asked of all children ages 6–17 are shown.

Parents are more likely to look for characters that reflect diversity in books for their children, still, some kids ages 12–17 are looking for these characters.

Types of Characters in Children’s Books Kids and Parents Look for When Choosing a Book for Fun

Base: Children Ages 12–17 and Parents with Children Ages 12–17

QK13. What kinds of characters do you look for in books you want to read for fun?
QP23. What kinds of characters do you look for in books for your child?

One-quarter (26%) of parents with kids ages 0–17 also say they look for books that include culturally or ethnically diverse storylines, settings or characters. When asked what diversity in books for children and teens means to them, parents go beyond ethnic diversity.

What Diversity in Children’s Books Means to Parents

Base: Parents with Children Ages 0–17

QP26. To me, diversity in books for children and teens includes…

HISPANIC FAMILIES LOOK FOR WIDER DIVERSITY IN CHILDREN’s BOOKS

In this analysis, Hispanic families are compared with non-Hispanic families and unless otherwise specified, all differences that are highlighted between the groups are statistically significant at the 90% confidence level or higher. The Hispanic families in the survey represent wide geographic and socio-economic diversity, yet it should be noted that the survey was only offered in English. See Appendix C for sample sizes.

PARENTS WITH AFRICAN-AMERICAN CHILDREN HAVE STRONGER PREFERENCES ABOUT THE TYPES OF CHARACTERS THEY WANT IN BOOKS FOR THEIR CHILDREN

In this analysis, African-American families are compared with non-African-American families and unless otherwise specified, all differences that are highlighted between the groups are statistically significant at the 90% confidence level or higher. See Appendix C for sample sizes.<