Connecting kids with stories they love, in whatever format they prefer—from fiction to nonfiction, chapter books to graphic novels, physical books to digital books—has been Scholastic’s mission for nearly 100 years. And since my early days as a teacher, getting students to read more, and to read with understanding, has been a personal mission.
We all know why reading is crucial: it provides myriad academic and social-emotional benefits and is also increasingly a way for children to connect with their peers, their families, their communities and the world at large. Reading the right book can help every child feel seen and heard. And it’s that connection that can lay the groundwork for becoming a lifelong reader—and in turn, building empathy, inspiring discovery and finding wonder in the world.
Compelling learnings from the seven editions of the Kids & Family Reading Report have helped Scholastic produce materials that educate and inspire. In this edition, we notice a trend that signals an urgent call to action: our research is telling us that kids reach their peak engagement with reading books for fun at a very young age, and that as children age, the pleasure they get from reading declines. This data is powerful: it is the story of how a child grows up and loses a connection with reading and books along the way.
That missing connection has consequences. Literacy is not just a gateway to academic success and discovery, but a means of preparing for the future. Never has this been more critical. Without the ability to read, a child faces significant challenges in navigating the mid-21st century. Reading allows kids to develop the skills they’ll need to do the work of tomorrow—work we can’t even envision today. Reading can provide an ability to visualize what language means, the capacity to discern fact from fiction—and also the emotional intelligence and self-discovery that comes from reading the great books and stories of the world. The child who has access to reading is a child better prepared to rise and meet their future.
The voice of parents continues to be critical. Parents have told us that the key qualities they hope their children develop as they grow up are self-confidence, responsibility, honesty, respectfulness and kindness, and they overwhelmingly believe that the characters their children read about in books can help them achieve these understandings. Parents also agree reading is a way to help their child understand different points of view and help their children find their place in the world. And, just as many adults turn to books to help us through difficult times, many parents have also seen how the right story can support their child through life’s challenges—a finding that children themselves agree to be true.
Has it ever been more clear that the role of parents, caregivers and those of us at Scholastic is to help a child discover a book that can change their life—and, in doing so, change the world? By supporting our youngest readers with access to engaging, relatable stories—to stories that spark their innate curiosity and answer their desire to be heard—we can turn around the drop off in reading engagement you will see cited in this report.
This report is a call to action to help young people discover what they want and need from books, and to together build a way forward to ensure that they will have access to the books which will ultimately help them shape our collective future.
CEO, President, and Chairman of Scholastic Inc.