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Australian Kids & Family Reading Report

The State of Kids & Reading

Key Findings

  • More than half of children aged 6–17 (58%) believe reading books for fun is extremely or very important and 60% of kids also say they love reading books for fun or like it a lot.
  • Just over one-third of children aged 6–17 (37%) report they are frequent readers, with kids aged 6–8 being the most likely to read 5–7 days a week.
  • As children grow older, reading competes with many screen-related activities, and 75% of parents with kids aged 6–17 agree: “I wish my child would do more things that did not involve screentime.”
  • Across ages, three-quarters of children (76%) say they know they should read more books for fun; a similar number of parents (78%) wish their child would read more books for fun.

Spotlight: What Makes Frequent Readers

  • Frequent readers, those who read books for fun 5–7 days a week, differ substantially from infrequent readers—those who read books for fun less than one day a week. For instance, 91% of frequent readers are currently reading at least one book for fun, while 80% of infrequent readers haven’t read a book for fun in a while.
  • There are three dynamics that are among the most powerful predictors of reading frequency for children aged 6–17:
  • How often a child is read books aloud
  • A child’s reading enjoyment
  • A child’s knowledge of their reading level
  • For children aged 6–11, additional predictors of reading frequency include where they read books for fun, parental involvement in encouraging reading, and how early they started being read books aloud.
  • For children aged 12–17, additional predictors of reading frequency include having parents who are frequent readers, the belief that reading books for fun is important, and in-school opportunities to talk about, find and read books.

More than six in 10 children aged 6–17 (64%) say they are currently reading at least one book for fun, with younger kids being more likely to say this than older kids.

Whether Children Are Currently Reading Books for Fun
Base: Children Aged 6–17


 

Overall, just over one-third of children (37%) report they are frequent readers, with kids aged 6– 8 being the most likely to read 5–7 days a week (61%).

Frequency with Which Children Read Books for Fun
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

While nine in 10 parents of children aged 6–17 say it is extremely or very important for their child to read books for fun, 58% of kids say the same.

Parents’ and Children’s Views on the Importance of Child Reading Books for Fun
Base: Parents of Children Aged 6–17 (Left), Children Aged 6–17 (Right)

 

Children’s views on the importance of reading books for fun declines with age.

Children’s Views on the Importance of Reading Books for Fun
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

Similarly, 74% of children aged 6–8 say they love reading books for fun or like it a lot, yet this reading enjoyment decreases with age.

Degree to Which Children Enjoy Reading Books for Fun
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

Four in 10 children (40%) think kids their age should be reading books for fun 5–7 days a week.

Frequency with Which Children Feel Kids Their Age Should Read Books for Fun
Base: Parents of Children Aged 6–17

 

Children feel strong computer and strong reading skills are among the most important skills they should have. Parents, by a fairly wide margin, perceive strong reading skills as the most important skills for their children to have.

Parents’ and Children’s Views on the Three Most Important Skills Kids Should Have
Base: Parents of Children Aged 6–17 (Left) and Children Aged 6–17 (Right)

 

Younger children are more likely than older children to value strong reading, writing, and maths skills, while the likelihood to say strong social and critical thinking skills are important increases with age.

Children’s Views on the Three Most Important Skills
Kids Should Have
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

More than half of children (52%) consider themselves good readers, while fewer than two in 10 say they have trouble reading or that reading is hard for them (17%).

How Children Describe Themselves as Readers
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

As children grow older, reading competes with many activities.

Percentage of Children Who Do Activities 5–7 Days a Week
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

Parents are concerned about the amount of time their children spend on screen-related activities, particularly parents of kids aged 12–14.

Percentage of Parents Who Feel Their Children Spend Too Much Time on Each Activity
Base: Parents of Children Aged 6–17 (Left) and Children Aged 6–17

 

Just over three-quarters of parents (78%) agree they wish their child would read more books for fun; a similar number of kids (76%), across ages, say they know they should read more books for fun.

Parents’ and Children’s Agreement with Statements on Reading More Books for Fun
Base: Parents of Children Aged 6–17 (Left) and Children Aged 6–17 (Right)

SPOTLIGHT:
What Makes Frequent Readers

There are three dynamics that are among the most powerful predictors of reading frequency for children aged 6–17.

Top Predictors of Reading Frequency
Base: Children Aged 6–17

Additional predictors of reading frequency for children
aged 6–11 include where they read books for fun, parental involvement in encouraging reading, and how early they
started being read books aloud.

Additional Predictors of Reading Frequency
Base: Children Aged 6–11

For children aged 12–17, additional predictors of reading frequency include having parents who are frequent readers, the belief that reading books for fun is important, and in-school opportunities to talk about, find and read books.

Additional Predictors of Reading Frequency
Base: Children Aged 12–17

The total number of books read annually by frequent readers is dramatically higher than the number read by infrequent readers, especially among children aged 12–17.

Average Number of Books Children Have Read in the Past Year
Base: Children Aged 6–17

Parents of infrequent readers are more likely to say they need help finding books their child likes compared with parents of frequent readers.

Parents’ Agreement with Statement: “I need help finding books my child likes”
Base: Parents of Children Aged 6–17



SPOTLIGHT:
What Makes Frequent Readers

30%
of parents with kids aged 6–17
personally read books for fun 5–7 days a week.
“I always enjoyed reading as a child and found it a wonderful way to use my imagination. It also helps to solve issues kids have today, depending on which books kids read.”
—Mother, 15-year-old boy,
New South Wales – Regional

“Reading is important because every area of life and every subject at school has reading activities.”
—15-year-old girl,
New South Wales – Regional
“Reading is fun and exciting. I get to use my imagination and learn new words.”
—7-year-old boy,
Victoria – Metro
“I just really love it and can’t stop when I start a book but with high school, I just don’t have as much time to do it.”
—14-year-old girl,
Queensland – Regional
“Reading makes me feel happy and peaceful. I can imagine being the character in the book.”
—8-year-old girl,
New South Wales – Regional
“You need to be able to read to have an interesting and successful life.”
—10-year-old girl,
Queensland – Metro
“l have always enjoyed
reading and the more
l read, the better
my reading skills
are getting.”

—16-year-old boy,
Victoria – Metro
“I have a very busy schedule with sport training and study. I do still find reading to be very relaxing.”
—14-year-old girl,
New South Wales – Regional
75%
of parents with kids
aged 6–17 agree:
“I wish my child would do more things that did not involve screen time.”
“Reading is a good pastime. It helps you relax and at the same time exercise the brain.”
—Mother, 14-year-old boy,
New South Wales – Regional
“I think that reading is a great thing for kids and even adults. I love reading because I can just read without really worrying about what’s going on around me.”
—11 year-old boy,
New South Wales – Regional
“My child is a great reader because she is encouraged to read each night before bed and when she is bored.”
—Mother, 11-year-old girl, Tasmania
“Reading broadens the mind and helps make the learning process easier so I can become knowledgeable while having fun.”
—12-year-old girl,
Queensland – Regional
80%
of infrequent readers aged 6–17
“haven’t read a book for fun in a while”, while 91% of frequent readers are currently reading at least one book for fun.
“If she enjoys reading, she will learn more and want to do it more often.”
—Mother, 6-year-old girl, Queensland – Regional