More Pleasure Reading Than We Suspected? – P.S. to Scholastic Report

More commentary on Scholastic’s Family Reading Report, released earlier this week, this time from Tim Shanahan, a widely recognized and published academic in the field of youth literacy and learning. Among his observations on the report are the following:

The major reason that they say they don’t read for pleasure is because they have other things to do, like working on computers. Some of that time might be spent on just dumb video games, but at least some of it is spent on other reading and writing activities (two-thirds of the kids said they have looked up authors and other book-related information on line).

The bad news in the report (and this is not new—I’ve found surveys all the way back to World War I with the same pattern) is that older students read less than younger students do. Preschoolers like books more than elementary kids do, and elementary kids like them more than teens. Similarly, boys were somewhat less taken with reading than were girls.

For insightful and informed commentary on this and a variety of other topics related to literacy and learning, I strongly suggest following this blog.


Scholastic 2008 Kids and Reading Report Results

This week marked the release of the bi-annual study of trends among kids and reading in the U.S. Some of the study’s findings are below:

  • After age eight, more children go online daily than read books for fun daily.
  • Two thirds of kids age 9-17 believe that within the next 10 years, most books which are read for
    fun will be read digitally – either on a computer or on another kind of electronic device. Eighty-
    seven percent of kids think people will be able to tag and share their favorite parts of books with others.
  • 77% of kids age 9-17 believe that in the next ten years, people will have all their favorite books stored electronically on a computer or another electronic device just like a music playlist on an iPod. It will be like a personal electronic library.
  • Two-thirds have read a book on a computer in the past year, and one-third had read one on a hand held device such as an e-book reader, iPhone, PSP, Blackberry, etc.

These findings merely underscore the conventional wisdom that kids born after 1990 expect to spend an increasing amount of time online, and take as a given that the web will be the source for nearly all of their information and entertainment as they enter adulthood. They started out with Gameboys and now they’re on iPhones. They like grazing, snacking and sharing, and this goes for their literary diet as well. Hence their penchant for portability.

Yet they’re not ready to give up on the dead tree format: they prefer books to digital versions by a 60-40 margin. In a few years, when e-books are as readily available as other content that kids are used to consuming on handheld devices, that ratio may well be inverted.

Sifting through the data for some positive trends, the Scholastic folks report the following:

  • Nearly two in three online tweens and teens have extended the reading experience via the
  • 37% of kids use the Internet to look for books in similar series
  • 27% go to book and authors’ websites
  • 18% go to websites with blogs about books or by authors
  • 16% are posting on chatrooms and messageboards about the books they read

The study does not offer any crosstabs based on income level; it merely states that the average family income was $58,000, well above the poverty level. It would be helpful if the data was broken down this way to make some policy recommendations about bridging the digital divide.