Scholastic Releases New National Research on Children’s Reading (Kids & Family Reading Report, 6th Ed.)
Scholastic today released results from the Kids & Family Reading Report: 6th Edition, a biannual national survey of children ages 6–17 and their parents, as well as parents of kids ages 0–5, exploring their attitudes and behaviors around reading. Key findings reveal what kids and parents look for in children’s books—including types of storylines and characters; the importance and increase in reading aloud to children from an early age; views on summer reading; as well as the inequities around access to books in the home. The report also provides data regarding parents’ views on diversity in children’s literature as well as data on books and reading in Hispanic and African-American families.
The Kids & Family Reading Report: 6th Edition released today has encouraging news showing that reading aloud to children ages 0–5 is happening in more families than it was just two years ago when the movement for reading from birth began. Yet, the report also reveals important insights into the ongoing challenges and inequities around children’s paths to literacy,” said Dick Robinson, CEO and Chairman, Scholastic. “The research confirms that kids, especially infrequent readers, need increased access to books, as well as more help than parents often realize, in order to find books they like. Fortunately, theKids & Family Reading Report also provides parents with the sources most often turned to by families seeking advice on children’s books their kids will love to read.”
Robinson continued, “This year, for the first time, the report includes data on parents’ and kids’ views and interests regarding diversity in children’s books, reflecting the important changing demographics of children in the U.S. and highlighting the specific views and preferences of Hispanic and African-American families.”
What Kids and Parents Want in Children’s Books: 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%), 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.
Reading Aloud: The Kids & Family Reading Report: 6th Edition reveals an increase in parents with kids ages 0–5 reading aloud early and often from two years ago.
- More parents are reading aloud to children before three months: Three-quarters of parents with children ages 0–5 (77%) say they started reading aloud to their child before age one, with 40%—up from 30% in 2014—saying they began when their child was less than three months old.
- The frequency of reading aloud to young children 5–7 days a week has increased since 2014among parents with kids ages 3–5 (55% to 62%), yet there are still significant drops in frequency after ages 5 and 8.
- Read aloud time is enjoyed by families: Kids ages 6–11 and their parents agree that they love(d) or like(d) read aloud time a lot with the top reasons being it is a special time together (72% and 77%, respectively) and reading together is fun (66% and 67%).
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%).
Books or series all kids should read. Parents told us the books or series they felt all children should read and they include Harry Potter, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Magic Tree House, Dr. Seuss and The Chronicles of Narnia.
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Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.