The State of Kids & Reading
One-third of children (34%) report they are frequent readers. Kids ages 6–8 are the most likely to be frequent readers (54%) while only 17% of kids ages 15–17 say they read books for fun 5–7 days a week.
Frequency with Which Children Read Books for Fun Base: Children Ages 6–17
While 58% of children love reading books for fun or like it a lot, reading enjoyment drops significantly after ages 8 and 11.
Degree to Which Children Enjoy Reading Books for Fun Base: Children Ages 6–17
“Reading takes you away from real life for a bit. I just love it.”
— 15-year-old girl, Yorkshire and the Humber
Similarly, 51% of children say reading books for fun is extremely or very important, yet this too declines after ages 8 and 11.
Children’s Views on the Importance of Reading Books for Fun Base: Children Ages 6–17
As children grow older, reading competes with many activities.
Percentage of Children Who Do Activities 5–7 Days a Week Base: Children Ages 6–17
“She is 17 now and does occasionally read, but it doesn’t seem fun for her anymore.”
— Stepmother, 17-year-old girl, North West
Parents are concerned about the amount of time their children spend on screen-related activities.
Percentage of Parents Who Feel Their Children Spend Too Much Time on Each Activity Base: Parents of Children Ages 6–17 Who Do Each Activity
Parents perceive strong social and reading skills as among the most important skills for their children to have. Though valued by fewer kids than parents, reading skills–along with computer skills–are still seen as important among kids.
Parents’ and Children’s Views on the Three Most Important Skills Kids Should Have Base: Parents of Children Ages 6–17 (Left) and Children Ages 6-17 (Right)
“Reading is one of the greatest gifts you can give a child. With that skill, the world is opened up for them.”
— Father, 14-year-old boy, South East
The percentage of children who say strong reading skills are among the most important skills they should have decreases with age. In comparison, the percentage that say strong social skills are important increases.
Children’s Views on the Three Most Important Skills Kids Should Have Base: Children Ages 6–17
“There’s not much you can do if you can’t read well, is there?”
— 7-year-old boy, North East
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.
Parents’ and Children’s Agreement with Statements on Reading More Books for Fun Base: Parents of Children Ages 6–17 (Left) and Children Ages 6–17 (Right)
“Because it’s not only fun, it’s good education.”
— 8-year-old girl, Yorkshire and the Humber
SPOTLIGHT: What Makes Frequent Readers?
There are four dynamics that are among the most powerful predictors of reading frequency for children ages 6–17.
Top Predictors of Reading Frequency Base: Children Ages 6–17
“I can finish a book in two days, and when I start a book, I can’t stop!”
— 9-year-old girl, Greater London
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.
Additional Predictors of Reading Frequency Base: Children Ages 6–11
“I like being read aloud to because books can be tricky.”
— 10-year-old girl, Scotland
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.
Additional Predictors of Reading Frequency Base: Children Ages 12–17
Overall, frequent readers are less likely than infrequent readers to engage seven days a week in all common screen-related activities asked about in the survey.
Percentage of Children Who Do Activities Seven Days a Week Base: Children Ages 6–17
The total number of books read annually by frequent readers is dramatically higher than the number read by infrequent readers. This is especially true among 12–17 year-olds, with frequent readers reading 8.5 times more books than infrequent readers.