In its latest report about reading, for the 2013-14 school year, Renaissance Learning gathered data from its Accelerated Reader-hosted database, utilized in more than 31,600 primary and secondary schools last year. The database includes book-reading records for more than 9.8 million students, who read more than 330 million books.
Among the general reading highlights:
• On average, students read the most books in grades 2 and 3 (about 57 and 51 per year, respectively), and the fewest in grades 11 and 12 (about 5 per year in each).
•The average number of words students read in books per year begins at about 25,000 in grade 1, rises each year until its peak at about 436,000 in grade 6, and then decreases to the low 300,000s by the end of high school.
• On average, girls read 761,000 more words than boys by the time they finish high school. Girls encounter nearly 3.8 million words between grades 1–12, about 25% more than boys, who encounter just over 3 million.
• Girls outpace boys in words read after grade 4.
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• In total, 1,091,269 first graders read 45,333,897 books and 27,537,712,169 words during the 2013–2014 school year. The average number of words read was 23,694 for boys and 25,283 for girls.
• The top three books read by first graders for each of the past three years were two Dr. Seuss books, #1 Green Eggs and Ham and #2 The Foot Book, followed by Alyssa Satin Capucilli’s Biscuit at #3. Two other Biscuit titles were #4 and 5, respectively, Biscuit Goes to School and Biscuit Finds a Friend.
• In total, 1,438,167 second graders read 82,415,999 books and 119,207,024,815 words during the 2013–2014 school year. The average number of words read was 78,862 for boys and 81,776 for girls.
• For second graders, Green Eggs and Ham was also the #1 book.
• In total, 1,518,290 third graders read 76,912,317 books and 286,892,342,977 words during the 2013–2014 school year. The average number of words read was 178,907 for boys and 187,403 for girls.
• Two Wimpy Kid Books, Hard Luck and Dog Days, took the top two reading slots for third graders. They were followed by Charlotte’s Web at #3 and Green Eggs and Ham at #4.
• In fourth grade, the Wimpy Kid series took the top 8 reading slots, with Hard Luck at #1.
• Overall, the amount of nonfiction book reading students do is considerably lower than goals outlined in the National Assessment Governing Board’s framework, which calls for a shift from 55% nonfiction in 4th grade to 70% in 12th grade.
• Nonfiction book reading peaks around grades 4 and 5, with 20–31% for boys and 13–21% for girls, less than half of the recommended 55% for fourth-graders.