Between the ages of 8 and 10, children’s reading journeys change dramatically. While they continue to master pronunciation and build vocabulary, they are also expected to read more and understand more complex texts, further testing their comprehension skills and ability to process facts and events.
Factor in the demands of other classroom subjects, and it’s possible to see why the “decline by nine” phenomenon occurs among children in this age bracket. Decline by nine is the term given to the waning interest children have in reading once they reach age 9 (or thereabouts). Despite 3rd grade being a benchmark for reading proficiency and reading milestones, it’s around this time that reading frequency among kids begins to drop.
According to Scholastic’s Kids & Family Reading Report, only 35 percent of 9-year-olds report reading five to seven days a week compared to 57 percent of 8-year-olds. Attitudes toward reading change as well: The number of kids who say they love reading drops signiﬁcantly from 40 percent among 8-year-olds to 28 percent among 9-year-olds.
What’s crucial for parents to know about the decline by nine is that when children’s reading frequency drops, it’s difficult to get them back in the habit. Reading skills that are not mastered by the end of elementary school can be that much harder to develop later in a child’s education. As a parent, you can steer your child’s reading journey to ensure they stay engaged with books.
“Parents play a huge role in helping their child maintain strong reading engagement,” says Kelsey Parrasch, a 4th grade teacher in New Jersey. “There are opportunities to engage with a wide variety of texts to build this.”
Here’s how you can support your child’s reading skills at this age.