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Australian Kids & Family Reading Report

Reading in School

Key Findings

  • Opportunities to read independently as a class rarely happen frequently and decrease with age. One-third of children aged 6–17 (34%) say they have the opportunity to read a book of their choice independently as a class, but only 14% do so every or almost every day.
  • Children aged 6–17 who are given time for independent reading at school are more likely to be reading currently and frequently, and are more likely to enjoy reading books for fun and believe it is important compared with those who are not; this is especially true for older children.
  • More than two-thirds of children aged 6–17 (66%) say that at least a few times a year, their principal encourages reading books for fun, with principals providing the most frequent encouragement to kids younger than age 12.
  • Children whose principals encourage reading books for fun are more likely than those without encouragement from their principal to read frequently, to think reading is important, and to love reading books for fun or like it a lot.

Spotlight: Kids’ Use of Their Reading Level

  • More than half of children in years 1–12 (56%) have been told their reading level in either the current or prior school year, and nearly nine in 10 of these kids (89%) have used their reading level to pick out books.
  • About half of children in years 1–12 (48%) say that when they use their reading level to pick books, they choose above and below their reading level in equal measure. Among kids in years 4–12, the most common reason they choose these books is because the topic interests them.

While half of children (52%) say they read books for fun mostly out of school, one-quarter (25%) say they read at home and school about equally, and 9% say they read for fun mostly in school.

Where Children Read Books for Fun
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

Some children have opportunities to read a book of their choice independently during the school day–usually as a class–yet these experiences rarely happen every or almost every school day.

Frequency with Which Children Read a Book of Their Choice Independently in School as a Class, During Available Free Time and as a School
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

Children aged 6–11 are the most likely to read a book of their choice as a class, while kids aged 12 and older are the least likely to have any time for independent reading at school.

Percentage of Children Who Read a Book of Their Choice Independently Each Way in School
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

Overall, children who read independently with their class or school feel more positively (64%) than negatively (33%) about this experience, and say that they wish they could do this more often.

How Children Feel About Independent Reading Time at School
Base: Children Aged 6–17 Who Read Independently with Their Class or
School at a Certain Time

 

Girls are more likely to enjoy independent reading at school: 73% of girls cited positive views compared with 56% of boys.

How Children Feel About Independent Reading Time at School
Base: Children Aged 6–17 Who Read Independently with Their Class or School at a Certain Time

 

Children who are given time for independent reading at school are more likely to be reading currently and frequently, more likely to enjoy reading books for fun and believe it is important, compared with those who are not.

Children’s Behaviours and Views on Reading Books for Fun
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

Reading in school has a greater impact on older children's views and behaviours around reading books for fun.

Children’s Behaviours and Views on Reading Books for Fun
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

Three-quarters of children (76%) say that at least a few times a year, their class is given time to talk about the books they have read for fun, but far fewer say this happens a few times a week or every day (35%).

How Often Children Are Given Time to Talk About The Books They Have Read for Fun
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

Overall, two-thirds of children (66%) say that at least a few times a year, their principal encourages reading books for fun, with principals providing the most frequent encouragement to kids younger than age 12.

How Often Principal Encourages Reading Books For Fun
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

Children whose principal encourages reading books for fun are more likely than those without encouragement from their principal to read frequently, to think reading is important and to love reading books for fun or like it a lot.

Children’s Behaviours and Views on Reading Books for Fun
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

When considering reading books aloud in class, 76% of children say this happens at least a few times a year, but just four in 10 (40%) say reading aloud in class happens a few times a week or every day, most commonly among younger kids.

How Often Class Reads Books Aloud Together
Base: Children Aged 6–17

SPOTLIGHT:
Kids’ Use of Their Reading Level

More than half of children in years 1–12 (56%) have been told their reading level in either the current or prior school year, and nine in 10 of these kids (89%) have used their reading level to pick out books.

Percentage of Children Who Have Been Told Their Reading Level and Frequency with Which They Use Their Reading Level to Pick Books
Base: Children in Years 1–12

When children use their reading level to pick books, about half (48%) say they pick books above and below their reading level in equal measure; one-third (33%) usually pick books above their reading level, while 6% usually pick below-level books.

How Children Use Their Reading Level to Choose Books
Base: Children in Years 1–12 Who Have Been Told Their Reading Level and Have Used it to Pick Books

The most common reasons children in years 4–12 choose books above their reading level are to read about topics they know a lot about and to challenge themselves.

Children’s Reasons for Choosing Books Above Reading Level
Base: Children in Years 4–12 Who Choose Books Above Their Reading Level

The most common reasons kids in years 4–12 choose books below their reading level are to read about topics that interest them and to re-read favourite books.

Children’s Reasons for Choosing Books Below Reading Level
Base: Children in Years 4–12 Who Choose Books Below Their Reading Level



SPOTLIGHT:
Reading with Kids from Birth

“I love independent reading when I pick a really good book to read.”
—11-year-old boy,
Victoria – Metro
“I think there needs to be more reading time at school. It is great that their day is full but unless they can read, they are always going to be a bit behind.”
—Mother, 8-year-old boy, ACT
“There are so many different stories that I would not have heard of if I didn’t read.”
—15-year-old boy,
New South Wales – Regional
“I love to learn and laugh and be inspired by books.”
—10-year-old girl,
Victoria – Metro
“Books can give me fulfillment and passion. When I read, it makes the time enjoyable and I get very involved in my book a lot of the time.”
—17-year-old girl,
Queensland – Regional
“I love to escape in a book with a great storyline and characters.”
—16-year-old girl, Tasmania
“Reading connects me to my friends and we have something to talk about.”
—14-year-old girl,
Victoria – Metro
“I love to read so I can learn more.”
—6-year-old girl,
Queensland – Metro
“Reading means
everything to me
and is educational
in every way.”

—6-year-old girl,
Victoria – Metro
“I like the teacher reading to me.”
—8-year-old boy,
New South Wales – Metro
“If I read more, I get to learn new words and improve my thinking. I can use the right words when I try to describe something and I love it.”
—10-year-old girl,
Victoria – Metro
“My child has always enjoyed reading and likes to challenge herself with age-appropriate books.”
—Mother, 9-year-old girl,
Victoria – Metro
“I like reading books with a cliff hanger at the end of each chapter.”
—14-year-old girl,
New South Wales – Metro
“I like to read certain books lots of times.”
—11-year-old boy,
Victoria – Regional