The Fifth Edition of the Scholastic Kids and Family Reading Report was published today. There is a lot of great content available on the Scholastic website, from downloads of the full report to infographics outlining key findings.
Here are some of the findings from the report that stood out for me (see full set of Key Findings here), with some of my thoughts on them:
On The State of Kids and Reading:
- Key Finding: "Both parents of children ages 6–17 (71%) and kids (54%) rank strong reading skills as the most important skill a child should have. Yet while 86% of parents say reading books for fun is extremely or very important, only 46% of kids say the same."
- My take: It seems clear that many parents understand the importance of reading, but parents are apparently not doing a very good job of conveying this to kids. I wonder if this has to do with wanting kids to LOVE reading, and hesitating to make the case that reading is important and valuable. Is there a fear that if we tell our kids that it's important for them to read, this will take away some of the joy? How can we balance this, I wonder...
On What Makes Frequent Readers:
- Key Finding: "There are several predictors that children ages 6–17 will be frequent readers. Three dynamics among the most powerful predictors are:
- being more likely to rate themselves as “really enjoying reading”
- a strong belief that reading for fun is important and
- having parents who are frequent readers."
- My take: Again, I wonder about the innate tension in "reading for fun is important." Does knowing that it's important imply that it's not fun? Like eating your vegetables? I do know that in my household, I am modeling reading every single day to my daughter. That much I am sure of. In thinking about this all more, I believe that the message I want to convey to my daughter is: "Reading for pleasure is very important to me. I need it like I need breathing. And I truly believe that all of the books that I have read for pleasure have helped to make me who I am."
On Reading Aloud at Home:
- Key Findings:
- "More than half of children ages 0–5 (54%) are read aloud to at home 5–7 days a week. This declines to only one in three kids ages 6–8 (34%) and to one in six kids ages 9–11 (17%); four in 10 children ages 6–11 who were read books aloud at home (40%) say they wished their parents had continued reading aloud to them.
- When it comes to being read aloud to at home, more than eight in 10 children (83%) across age groups say they love(d) or like(d) it a lot—the main reason being it was a special time with parents."
- My take: There needs to be better communication of this message to parents - that we should continue reading aloud to our kids long after they can read on their own. It's beneficial to the kids, and enjoyable to both parties. Personally, I intend to read aloud to my daughter (and/or have my husband do so) for as long as she will allow it.
On Income Differences:
- Key Finding: "Six in 10 parents with children ages 0–5 (60%) have received advice that children should be read aloud to from birth; however, just under half of parents in the lowest-income households (47%) received this advice vs. 74% in the highest-income households."
- My take: Clearly, work needs to be done here. There are some other findings in the report that show that schools do make up some of the slack for lower income children.
On What Kids Want in Books:
- Key Findings:
- "Ninety-one percent of children ages 6–17 say “my favorite books are the ones that I have picked out myself.”
- The majority of kids ages 6–17 (70%) say they want books that “make me laugh.” Kids also want books that “let me use my imagination” (54%), “tell a made-up story” (48%), “have characters I wish I could be like because they’re smart, strong or brave” (43%), “teach me something new” (43%) and “have a mystery or a problem to solve” (41%)."
- My take: Nothing new here on choice. When kids are reading for fun, for goodness sake let them read what they want to read. If that happens to be books that are funny, great. Find them more books that are funny. I always recommend that parents check out the Cybils shortlists, because the Cybils finalists are selected on the basis of being well-written and kid-friendly (which often = funny, especially in the books for younger kids).
And here are the two infographics (both (c) Scholastic):
Please do go and check out the resources on the Scholastic website. This is important research that I hope will be widely disseminated, and used to help raise coming generations of readers.