Here at Better Reading Kids, we are always interested in new research about how and why kids read, and how to help encourage a lifelong love of books.
This year Scholastic Australia prepared their inaugural Kids & Family Reading Report to study ‘Australian children’s and parent’s attitudes and behaviours towards reading for pleasure’. You can read the full report online here, but we’ll highlight some of the key findings and how they can improve both your child’s skill and attitude towards reading.
For the report, 1,748 parents and children were surveyed, including 358 parents of children aged 0–5; 695 parents of children aged 6–17; plus one child aged 6–17 from the same household.
There were several key findings and areas that the report focuses on and we’ve summarised each section below, but you can click on the links to head straight to that section of the report.
The good news is, mostly great! More than one in six kids interviewed said they are currently reading at least one book for fun. For ages 6-8, it’s even 77%! The downside is – that number decreases with age, all the way down to 41% of 15-17 year olds.
In terms of frequency, on average just over a third of kids say they read a book for fun 5-7 days a week, and again that percentage is much higher in younger children. Parents almost universally think it is important for their kids to read for fun, and most children think the same. 78% of parents wish their child would read for pleasure even more than they do, and 76% of kids agree.
So since we almost all see the importance of reading and want our kids to read for fun more – how do we create frequent readers?
Well, one of the ways to start is through reading aloud, as the report found that reading aloud is a fantastic way to cultivate reading interest and attitude. 86% of children either like or love being read to, particularly as they feel it gives them special time with their parents. Not only can you read start reading to a child before the age of one, but it’s a great idea to keep going, even once your child is an independent reader. Of the children aged 6-8 who were surveyed and responded that they were no longer being read to, 51% of them wished their parents still did. You can read more about we think reading aloud to older kids is crucial here.
If you’re a teacher, there were also important findings in the report. Independent reading time at school helped kids be more likely to read for fun at home too, and to become frequent readers. When asked their opinion on independent reading when done as a class or school, 64% wished it was done more often or replied that it’s one of their favourite parts of the school day.
A child’s reading level was an important factor in kids choosing to read for fun. Of the group that had been told their reading level in the last year (which was 56% of those interviewed), 9 out of 10 said they kept it in mind when selecting new books for fun.
At the media launch Professor Rosemary Johnson of the University of Sydney said she felt this report was ‘extremely timely’ because there are so many ‘competitive devices to claim children’s interest’. It’s proven that kids who read more are better readers, but how do we help make sure kids choose a book over a screen when they’re looking for fun?
The key word there is ‘choose’. The report found that out of the children surveyed, across all the different age groups, at least 90% agree that ‘my favourite books are the ones that I have picked out myself’ and that 86-91% believe they are ‘more likely to finish reading a book that I have picked out myself’. Nearly all (80%) of the surveyed children aged between 6-8 said they would read more if ‘I could find more books that I like’, with at least 70% sharing that sentiment in the other age groups.
About 40% of parents responded saying they ‘need help’ finding books their child likes, especially among parents of 12-14 year olds. The report can help with that too, as they found that across all age groups, kids were mainly just looking for a book to make them laugh! 67% of 6-11 year olds and 54% of 12-17 year olds chose humour as the thing that attracts them when picking out a new book to read for fun, with other criteria such as ‘lets me use my imagination’ and ‘has characters I wish I could be like’ also rating highly. Learn more about this part of the report here, and be sure to take your child along with you to the library or bookstore so they have a say in what book they dive into next.
Christine Vale, Head of Education at Scholastic, called this report a baseline or starting position, and we agree. There’s a lot of great information here, and ways that we can all help foster a love of reading in kids, both in primary and high school.
If you’re looking for more information, be sure to check out the report and read some of our other articles on kids and reading:
Our article on truly great reading aloud and storytelling
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