The study, a biannual report from Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL), the global children’s publishing, education and media company, and the Harrison Group, a leading marketing and strategic research consulting firm, reports that:
- The percent of children who have read an ebook has almost doubled since 2010 (25% vs. 46%).
- Half of children age 9-17 say they would read more books for fun if they had greater access to ebooks – a 50% increase since 2010.
- Overall, about half of parents (49%) feel their children do not spend enough time reading books for fun – an increase from 2010 when 36% of parents were dissatisfied with time their child spent reading.
- Seventy-two percent of parents show an interest in having their child read ebooks.
Findings reveal the potential for ebooks to motivate boys, who are more commonly known to be reluctant readers, to read more.
- One in four boys who has read an ebook says he is now reading more books for fun.
eBooks may also be the key to transition moderately frequent readers (defined as kids who read one to four days a week) to frequent readers (those who read five to seven days a week).
- More than half (57%) of moderately frequent readers who have not read an ebook agree they would read more if they had greater access to ebooks.
Even so, the love of and consistent use of print books is evident among kids, regardless of age.
- Eighty percent of kids who read ebooks still read books for fun primarily in print.
- Fifty-eight percent of kids age 9-17 say they will always want to read books printed on paper even though there are ebooks available (a slight decline from 66% in 2010), revealing the digital shift in children’s reading that has begun.
"We are seeing that kids today are drawn to both print books and ebooks, yet ereading seems to offer an exciting opportunity to attract and motivate boys and reluctant readers to read more books," noted Francie Alexander, Chief Academic Officer, Scholastic. "While many parents express concern over the amount of time their child spends with technology, nearly half do not have a preference of format for their child’s books. The message is clear – parents want to encourage more reading, no matter the medium."
The report also notes that the gender gap in reading frequency and attitudes towards reading is narrowing; however, the narrowing of the gap is driven more by decreases among girls than it is by increases in boys.
- Among girls since 2010, there has been a decline in frequent readers (42% vs. 36%), reading enjoyment (39% vs. 32% say they love reading), and the importance of reading books for fun (62% vs. 56% say it is extremely or very important).
- Among girls ages 12-17 there was an increase in the amount of time they spend visiting social networking sites and using their smartphones for going online.
- Among boys since 2010, there has been an increase in reading enjoyment (20% vs. 26% say they love reading), and importance of reading books for fun (39% vs. 47%). Reading frequency among boys has stayed steady, with 32% being frequent readers.
"While highlighting opportunities, this report remains a call to action to stay focused on increasing reading frequency among our children because the more they read, the better readers they will become and the more they will love it and continue to read," continued Alexander. "Literacy is a critical doorway to success in both school and life, particularly as the digital world increases access to information. Our children need to gain the skills learned by reading, such as the ability to analyze, interpret and understand complex texts and to separate fact from opinion."
The study also looked at the influences that impact kids’ reading frequency, and parents ranked extremely high. The report found that having a reading role-model parent or a large book collection at home has a greater impact on kids’ reading frequency than does household income. Plus, building reading into kids’ daily schedules and regularly bringing home books for children positively impacts kids’ reading frequency.
Additional findings of note include:
- Kids say that ebooks are better than print books when they do not want their friends to know what they are reading, and when they are out and about/traveling.
- Print books are seen by kids as better for sharing with friends and reading at bedtime.
- Consistent with the 2010 Kids & Family Reading Report, nine in ten kids say they are more likely to finish a book they choose themselves.
- Thirty-one percent of parents who have read an ebook say they personally read more books now than they read before starting to read ebooks.
- Thirty-two percent of parents say they are reading new kinds of books they never thought they would read, including children’s books and teen fiction.
The study was conducted by Scholastic and managed by Harrison Group, a YouGov Company. Survey data were collected by GfK, and the source of the survey sample of 1,074 pairs of children age 6-17 and their parents was GfK’s nationally representative KnowledgePanel®.
To download the Kids & Family Reading Report and access audio sound bites, visit www.scholastic.com/readingreport.