Turning Tide: As E-reading Catches On, Boys Gain on Girls

In Children's by Dennis Abrams

By Dennis Abrams

A national survey released by Scholastic in the fourth edition of its Kids and Family Reading Report, looked at the views of kids age 6-17 as well as their parents on reading in the digital landscape, as well as the influences that impact kid’s reading frequency and attitudes toward reading.

Among the report’s findings:

The percent of children who have read an ebook has almost doubled since 2010 (25% vs. 46%).

Half of children age 9-17 say they would read more books for fun if they had greater access to ebooks — a 50% increase since 2010.

Overall, almost half of parents (49%), feel their children do not spend enough time reading books for fun — an increase from 2010 when 36% of parents were dissatisfied with the amount of time their children spent reading.

The report’s findings reveal that eBooks have the potential to motivate boy, who are known as reluctant readers, to read more:

One in four boys who has read an ebook says he is now reading more books for fun.

Ebooks might also be the way to transform moderately frequent readers (defined as kids who read one to four days a week) into frequent readers (those who read five to seven days a week).

More than half (57%) of moderately frequent readers who have not read an ebook agree they would read more if they had greater access to ebooks.

But even with the increased popularity of ebooks, the love and consistent use of print books is still evident, regardless of age level.

Eighty percent of kids who read ebooks still read books for fun primarily in print.

Fifty-eight percent of kids age 9-17 say they will always want to read books printed on paper even though there are ebooks available (a slight decline from 66% in 2010), indicating perhaps that the digital shift in children’s reading has begun.

“We are seeing that kids today are drawn to both print books and ebooks, yet ereading seems to offer an exciting opportunity to attract and motivate boys and reluctant readers to read more books,” noted Francie Alexander, Chief Academic Officer, Scholastic. “While many parents express concern over the amount of time their child spends with technology, nearly half do not have a preference of format for their child’s books. The message is clear — parents want to encourage more reading, no matter the medium.”

The report also notes that the gender gap in reading frequency and attitudes toward reading is narrowing. The bad news though, is that this narrowing is driven more by decreases among girls than it is by increases in boys.

Among girls since 2010, there has been a decline in frequent readers (42% vs. 36%), reading enjoyment (39% vs. 32% say they love reading), and the importance of reading books for fun (62% vs. 56% say it is extremely or very important).

Among boys since 2010, there has been an increase in reading enjoyment (20% vs. 26% say they love reading), and importance of reading books for fun (39% vs. 47%). Reading frequency among boys has stayed steady, with 32% remaining frequent readers.

“While highlighting opportunities, this report remains a call to action to stay focused on increasing reading frequency among our children because the more they read, the better readers they will become and the more they will love it and continue to read,” continued Alexander. “Literacy is a critical doorway to success in both school and life, particularly as the digital world increases access to information. Our children need to gain the skills learned by reading, such as the ability to analyze, interpret, and understand complex texts and separate fact from fiction.”

Read the entire report here.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.