Finding Books to Read: Diversity, Accessibility, and a Good Story

The survey explores the accessibility of children's books and expands upon what children ages 6–17 and their parents look for in books, with new data around diverse characters in children's literature.

  • The average home with children ages 0–17 has 104 children's books; however, households with income less than $35,000 only have 69 children’s books; Hispanic families have 91 children's books; and African American families have 67 children's books on average in the home.

  • Parents underestimate the degree to which children have trouble finding books to read for fun. Only 29% of parents agree “my child has trouble finding books he/she likes,” whereas 41% of kids say finding books they like is a challenge — this percentage of kids increases to 57% among infrequent readers (reads less than one day a week) in comparison to 26% of frequent readers (reads 5–7 days a week).

  • Kids and parents agree that they just want a “good story” or a funny read. When looking for children's books to read for fun, both kids (37%) and parents (42%) “just want a good story,” and a similar percentage want books that make kids laugh.

  • Defining diversity in children's books. Parents with kids ages 0–17 share that diversity in books for kids and teens includes “people and experiences different than those of my child” (73%), “various cultures, customs, or religions” (68%), “differently-abled people” (51%), “people of color” (47%), and “LGBTQ people” (21%). African-American families are more likely than non-African-American families to say diversity means the inclusion of “people of color” (62% vs. 45%).

  • Diverse characters in children's books. Parents of kids ages 12–17 are more likely than kids ages 12–17 to look for characters that reflect diversity in children's books, yet about one in 10 kids ages 12–17 look for characters who are “differently-abled” (13%), who are “culturally or ethnically diverse” (11%), and “who break stereotypes” (11%). Both African-American and Hispanic families are more likely than other families to look for books with characters who are culturally or ethnically diverse.

Summer Reading

The research examines the importance and enjoyment of summer reading as well as the inequities around children's summer reading behaviors and parents' awareness of the “summer slide,” the loss of skills that occurs when children are out of school in the summer.

  • Six in 10 children ages 6–17 agree “I really enjoy reading books over the summer” (62%), and 80% agree that summer reading will help them during the school year.

  • One in five 12–17-year-olds and one in five kids from lower-income families do not read any books at all over the summer. On average, kids read eight books over the summer.

  • Awareness of the “summer slide” varies according to household income. Nearly half of all parents with children ages 6–17 (48%) have heard of the “summer slide,” with lower-income parents far less likely to have heard of this (38%).

Methodology, In Brief

Results of the Kids & Family Reading Report: 6th Edition are from a nationally representative survey with a total sample size of 2,718 parents and children, including 632 parents of children ages 0–5; 1,043 parents of children ages 6–17; plus one child age 6–17 from the same household, conducted from September 19, 2016, through October 10, 2016. The research was managed by YouGov.

The Kids & Family Reading Report: 6th Edition marks 10 years of Scholastic surveying kids and their parents in the U.S. on reading attitudes and behaviors. Since 2015, three international reports have been released in the United Kingdom, Australia, and India.

To download the full report, visit www.scholastic.com/readingreport.