The fourth edition of Scholastic’s “Kids & Family Reading Report,” released by the company Monday, put the emphasis on what the growth in e-books and digital reading devices has had on the reading habits of children aged 6-17 as well as their parents. As Scholastic CEO Dick Robinson said in the introduction to the study, “much has changed” since Scholastic released the first of its bi-annual reports in 2006.
Although e-books have been slower to catch on among children than adults, e-books are definitely becoming a larger part of children’s media world, with the survey finding that 46% of kids 6-17 have read an e-book, up from 25% in 2010. The number of boys who read e-books rose at a slightly faster rate than for girls, but more girls (47%) read an e-book than boys (44%) last fall. There was not too much variation in e-book reading among age groups, with children age 12-14 the most likely to have read an e-book (48%), and those 15-17 the least likely (43%). Reading on an iPad or other tablet increased the most between 2010 and 2012, jumping from 3% to 21%, putting tablets second behind laptops and netbooks (which had a 22% response rate) as the most popular device for digital reading; dedicated digital readers also had big gains in the two years, rising from 7% to 19% and use of hand-held devices to read doubled to 16%; reading on desktops inched up to 19% from 17%.
Most e-book reading is done at home, not surprising since few schools own digital devices. Seventy-five percent of children said they read an e-book at home, followed by 27% who have read an e–book at school; 13% said they read an e-book at the library. More access to e-books would result in more children reading for fun, the survey found with 49% of children reporting that they would read more if they had greater access to e-books, up from 33% in 2010. Younger readers (9-11) showed the most interest in using e-books to read more for fun than older children, a trend that is consistent with the finding that younger readers are more likely to read for fun in general than teenagers. The overall percentage of children who read books for fun fell to 34% in last year’s survey from 37% in 2010 as their use of technology increased. The largest jump in media usage came in smartphones and other handheld devices with 21% of children engaging in that activity up from 13% two years ago. And while children reported reading for fun less, their parents, in increasing numbers, said their children don’t read enough with that percentage rising to 49% from 36%.
The percentage of 9-17 year olds who said they will continue to read print books fell to 58% from 66% in 2010.