In summer 2015, Scholastic, in conjunction with YouGov, conducted a survey to explore family attitudes and behaviours in the United Kingdom around reading books for fun. The key findings of this research, based on a nationally representative sample of 1,755 parents and children, including 349 parents of children 0–5; 703 parents of children ages 6–17; plus one child age 6–17 from the same household, follow:

The State of Kids & Reading See the full data

  • One-third of children ages 6–17 (34%) report they are frequent readers, reading books for fun 5–7 days a week. Kids ages 6–8 are the most likely to be frequent readers (54%) in comparison with 17% of kids ages 15–17.
  • While 58% of children love reading books for fun or like it a lot, reading enjoyment drops significantly after ages 8 and 11. Similarly, 51% of children say reading books for fun is extremely or very important, yet this too declines after ages 8 and 11.
  • As children grow older, reading competes with many screen-related activities. For example, when it comes to using a smartphone or other handheld device for going online, less than one-third of kids younger than 12 report doing so 5-7 days a week. This increases to 62% of kids ages 12-14 and then again to 80% of kids ages 15-17. A similar pattern is seen among kids’ use of mobiles to text or talk.
  • Nearly nine in 10 parents of children ages 6–17 (88%) say it is extremely or very important that their children read books for fun and 75% agree: “I wish my child would do more things that did not involve screen time.”
  • Across ages, seven in 10 children (71%) say they know they should read more books for fun; the same percentage of parents (71%) wish their child would read more books for fun.

SPOTLIGHT: What Makes Frequent Readers

  • Frequent readers differ substantially from infrequent readers – those who read books for fun less than one day a week. For instance, 92% of frequent readers are currently reading at least one book for fun while 75% of infrequent readers “haven’t read a book for fun in a while.”
  • There are four dynamics that are among the most powerful predictors of reading frequency for children ages 6–17:
    • A child’s belief that reading books for fun is important
    • A child’s reading enjoyment
    • Parents’ reading frequency
    • Parental involvement in their child’s reading habits
  • Additional predictors of reading frequency for children ages 6–11 include how often they were read to before Reception, whether they are currently read books aloud, and less time spent online using a smartphone.
  • For children ages 12–17, additional predictors of reading frequency include having opportunities to read a book of their choice independently at school, finding books on a school reading list or on blogs, and spending less time watching TV and visiting social networking sites.

Reading Aloud at Home See the full data

  • More than three-quarters of children ages 0–5 (77%) are read aloud to at home 5–7 days a week. This declines to fewer than four in 10 kids ages 6–8 (37%), and one in five kids ages 9–11 (20%).
  • Across all ages, the overwhelming majority of kids who are or were read books aloud (83%) say they love(d) being read books aloud at home or like(d) it a lot–the top reason being it's a special time with their parents.
  • Overall, nine in 10 parents (89%) say their children are read books aloud at home before age 6, primarily to encourage reading enjoyment and foster development of language skills.

SPOTLIGHT: Reading with Kids from Birth

  • Three-quarters of parents of children ages 0–5 (75%) say they started reading aloud to their child before age one, yet only 33% say they began before the age of three months.
  • Less than half of parents of children ages 0–5 (41%) received the advice that children should be read aloud to from birth, with parents from the lowest-income households more likely to receive this advice than parents from higher-income households.
  • Among parents who received advice that children should be read aloud to from birth, the most common sources of this advice include Bookstart, friends and family.

Reading in School See the full data

  • More than one-third of children (35%) say their class has a designated time during the school day to read a book of their choice independently, yet only 14% have this time every or almost every school day.
  • Overall, children who read independently with their class or school feel positive (56%) about this experience, saying that they wish they could do this more often or that it is one of their favourite parts of the day.
  • Children who are given time for independent reading at school are more likely than kids without this time to be reading currently and frequently, more likely to say reading books for fun is important, and more likely to enjoy reading.

SPOTLIGHT: Sources for Finding Books

  • Libraries and school book fairs and book club flyers, along with bookshops, are the leading sources children ages 6–11 use to find books to read for fun. While libraries and bookshops remain popular, online sources become more common as kids grow older.

What Kids Want in Books See the full data

  • Across all ages, a majority of kids (68%) say they would read more if they could find more books they like, and nearly four in 10 parents (38%) agree that their child has trouble finding books he or she likes.
  • More than eight in 10 children agree their favourite books –and the ones they are most likely to finish–are the ones they pick out themselves.
  • Above all, children want books that make them laugh (63%), and parents often want the same things in books for their children as kids want for themselves.

SPOTLIGHT: Print Books in a Digital World

  • More than four in 10 children ages 6–17 (43%) have read an ebook.
  • A majority of children who read ebooks (56%) say that most of the books they read for fun are in print, but three in 10 (30%) kids read half ebooks and half print books.
  • Sixty-eight percent (68%) of children agree they will always want to read print books, even though there are ebooks available.