Kids & Family Reading Report™

A biennial national survey of parents’ and children’s reading attitudes and behaviors.

Expanding Access to Books

Findings from Scholastic research support the idea that access to high-quality books that kids want to read is key to building foundational reading skills and a generation of readers. By having a variety of stories available to all kids wherever they seek out books—whether public library, school reading event, or the shelves at home—every child will have the opportunity to connect to the books that will support their development as readers.


Looking at the data, it is encouraging to see that across demographics, sentiment around reading and access to books is high. Nearly all parents, regardless of income, agree that kids need access to books at school, in their community, and at home.

Unfortunately, not all kids have equal access to books, some children simply have more books on their shelves than others. Inequities among households affect home libraries and show discrepancies in who has access to books and the ability to choose books that appeal to them–and these discrepancies impact the many reading milestones and memories that come after. Households with an income less than $50k have nearly half the amount of books in the home as households with incomes of $100k+. And household income does not just affect how many books a child owns. Income levels also differentiate book borrowing habits, with more affluent families more likely to borrow books from their local library.

In addition to expanding access to reading materials, it is also important for kids to have access to the kinds of books they want to read, with characters who appeal to them. The data reveals that half of all kids from histori- cally underrepresented populations have difficulty finding books with characters who are like them, and over half of kids ages 9-17 who identify as Black or Hispanic wish there were more books that included diversity.

Many parents surveyed agree that a diverse selection of books should be available to kids at school, in their communities, and at home. Notably, nearly three-quarters (73%) of all parents say that public libraries should include books with characters of varied racial identities, ethnic backgrounds, and a range of life experiences.

The data makes it clear that having a diverse selection of books available in a variety of settings has an impact on ensuring equitable access to quality books among children, as kids do not get the books they read for fun from just one place. But as the findings show, equitable access to books in school is crucial: over half of all kids surveyed get most of the books they read for fun from a school-based source, including school or classroom libraries and school book fairs and order forms that their teachers sent home.

Making sure this variety of books is available to all kids across all demographics is critical because as the data makes clear, choice rules. When kids choose, they read: nearly all kids agree that their favorite books, and the ones they are more likely to finish, are the ones they have chosen themselves.

These findings shed more light on how critically important it is to provide children with the high quality books and resources that will help them learn and love to read. While the majority of households believe that reading for fun is extremely/very important, access to great books is simply not equal for all children. But this knowledge provides us with power to address these inequities and make access to great books a reality for all kids. Scholastic and our network of partners—including classroom teachers and education administrators, librarians, community groups and nonprofit organizations, bookstores and families everywhere—are working hard to expand access and book choice to children everywhere so that they can learn to read confidently, develop their literacy, and identify as a reader.

In an op-ed for Story Monsters Ink, Scholastic Chief Impact Officer Judy Newman shares the defining moments from her own childhood when access to great books led to her becoming a voracious reader, and discusses why we cannot delay in working together towards a more equitable, literacy-fueled future.


“There is power in kids having unlimited choice and getting to own the books they are proud to put on their shelves.”

- Judy Newman, Scholastic Chief Impact Officer