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Australian Kids & Family Reading Report

What Kids Want in Books

Key Findings

  • An overwhelming majority of kids aged 6–17 agree that their favourite books—and the ones they are most likely to finish—are the ones they pick out themselves.
  • Above all, children aged 6–17 want books that make them laugh, and what parents want in books for children is often the same as what kids want for themselves.
  • Nearly three-quarters of kids aged 6–17 (74%) say they would read more if they could find more books that they like.
  • Libraries, school book fairs and book club catalogues, and bookshops are the leading sources children aged 6–17 use to find books to read for fun. Parents also frequently turn to libraries and bookshops to find books for their child to read for fun, followed by the school book fair or book club catalogue.

Spotlight: Print Books in a Digital World

  • One-third of children aged 6–17 (33%) have read an ebook, with kids aged 12–17 being the most likely to have done so.
  • The majority of children aged 6–17 (79%) agree they will always want to read print books, even though there are ebooks available.

Children of all age groups agree: their favourite books—and the ones they are most likely to finish—are the ones they pick out themselves.

Children’s Agreement with Statements
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

Across all ages—but particularly among children aged 6–8—a majority of kids (74%) say they would read more if they could find more books that they like.

Children’s Agreement with Statement:
“I would read more if I could find more books that I like.”
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

Nearly four in 10 parents (38%) agree that their child has trouble finding books he or she likes, especially as their child grows older.

Parents’ Agreement with Statement:
“My child has trouble finding books he/she likes”
Base: Parents of Children Aged 6–17

 

Further, 40% of parents agree they need help finding books their child likes, with parents of kids aged 12–14 feeling this the most strongly.

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

 

Libraries and school book fairs and book club catalogues, along with bookshops, are the leading sources children aged 6–11 use to find books to read for fun. While these sources remain important, as kids grow older more begin to look online to find books.

Sources Children Use to Find Books to Read for Fun
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

Similarly, libraries and bookshops are the most common sources parents use when looking for books for their child to read for fun, followed by the school book fair and book club catalogue. Parents of children younger than 12 are the most likely to use libraries, as well as school book fairs and book club catalogues.

Sources Parents Use to Help Find Books for Their Child to Read
Base: Parents of Children Aged 6–17

 

Children commonly turn to their parents when they need ideas about which books to read for fun.

People From Whom Children Get Ideas About Which Books to Read for Fun
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

Above all, children want books that make them laugh.

Things Children Look for When Picking Out a Book to Read
for Fun
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

What children want in books varies by age.

Things Children Look for When Picking Out a Book to Read
for Fun
Base: Children Aged 6–17

 

Parents often want in books for their children the same things as kids want for themselves.

Comparison of Things Children Want in Books to Things Parents Want in Books for their Kids
Base: Children Aged 6–17 and Parents of Children Aged 6–17

 

Parents are most likely to encourage their child to read by making print books accessible and giving books as gifts.

Things Parents Do to Encourage Their Child to Read Books
for Fun
Base: Parents of Children Aged 6–17

 

Children whose parents encourage reading by always making print books available are more likely to be currently and frequently reading a book for fun, to love or like reading books for fun a lot, and to think kids their age should be reading frequently.

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

 

Children whose parents use the school book fair or book club catalogue to encourage reading books for fun are more likely to be currently reading a book for fun, to enjoy reading, to think reading is important, and to read books for fun frequently.

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

 

As children grow older, parents are less likely to engage in activities that encourage reading.

Things Parents Do to Encourage Their Child to Read Books
for Fun
Base: Parents of Children Aged 6–17

 

Parents of older children are more likely to say they do not have a preference as to whether their kids read books for fun in print vs. ebooks. However, seven in 10 parents of children aged 6–11 (72%) prefer that their kids read in print.

Parents’ Book Preferences for Their Child:
Print Books vs. eBooks
Base: Parents of Children Aged 6–17

SPOTLIGHT:
Print Books in a Digital World

One-third of children (33%) have read an ebook, with kids aged 12–17 being most likely to have done so.

Percentage of Children Who Have Read an eBook
Base: Children Aged 6–17

Children are mostly reading ebooks at home.

Places Children Read eBooks
Base: Children Aged 6–17

Half of children who read ebooks (51%) say that most of the books they read for fun are in print, but more than one-third (37%) read about half ebooks and half print books.

How Children Read Books for Fun
Base: Children Aged 6–17 Who Have Read an eBook

One-quarter of children who have read an ebook (26%) say they are reading more books since starting to read digitally. Girls and kids aged 6–8 are the most likely to say this.

Impact Reading eBooks Has Had on the Amount of Books Children Read
Base: Children Aged 6–17 Who Have Read an eBook

More than half of children who have read ebooks (55%) prefer to read print books, with 6–8 year-olds being the most likely to feel this way. Boys are less likely than girls to prefer print books.

How Children Prefer to Read Books: Print vs. eBooks
Base: Children Aged 6–17 Who Have Read an eBook

The majority of children (79%) agree they will always want to read print books, even though there are ebooks available.

Children’s Agreement with Statement:
“I’ll always want to read books printed on paper even though there are ebooks available”
Base: Children Aged 6–17

Among children who have not read an ebook, four in 10 (39%) express interest in reading an ebook, with younger kids being more interested than older children.

Interest in Reading eBooks
Base: Children Aged 6–17 Who Have Not Read an eBook

Home libraries are predominantly composed of print books, many of which are children’s books. In homes with ebooks, half of parents (51%) say the ebook collection is mostly books for adults.

Average Number of Print and eBooks in Home
Base: Children Aged 6–17

Percentage of Children’s vs.
Adult Books in Home
Base: Parents of Children Aged 6–17
Who Say There Are Print Books and eBooks in Their Home



SPOTLIGHT:
Print Books in a Digital World

54%
of kids aged 6–17 say
the person who does the best job of picking out books to read for fun is “Me”.
86%
of kids aged 6–17 agree:
“I feel proud and have a sense of accomplishment when I finish reading a book.”
“I find it hard to find a good book to read and also have trouble staying focused.”
—17-year-old boy,
Victoria – Metro
“Reading is my own personal passion. I love and enjoy it so much, and learn so much from it that I want my children to feel the same way that I do.”
—Mother, 13-year-old boy,
New South Wales – Metro
“Bring children to the library every now and then, including story time, and they start to love to go to the library.”
—Mother, 9-year-old girl,
New South Wales – Metro
“Reading is strongly encouraged at our local school. The librarian is a fanatic on books and helps the students very much.”
—Father, 10-year-old girl, Queensland – Regional
“I ask her what
she likes or is
interested in and
then give her
suggestions.”

—Mother, 10-year-old girl, Victoria – Metro
“I love books’ adventures, characters and story lines. They can be happy, funny, silly, sad, scary or just weird.”
—11-year-old girl,
Western Australia – Metro
“I like adventure in books because life can sometimes get dull. I like other nonfiction and fiction books also, so I can learn more about my passions.”
—14-year-old girl,
Queensland – Metro
“I would rather him happily read something funny and engaging than have to force him to read something he just doesn’t want to. Funny books grab you right at the start.”
—Mother, 12-year-old boy,
New South Wales – Metro
“Sometimes it’s fun if we both read the same book and then discuss the main themes and what we enjoyed or thought interesting about the book.”
—Mother, 14-year-old girl, Victoria – Metro
“I enjoy time alone when it’s just me and the book.”
—16-year-old girl,
New South Wales – Metro
“After I’ve read a book I can recommend it to one of my friends and then we can talk about it. I think that it’s a great skill for children to have because they will need to be able to read for pretty much their whole entire life.”
—11-year-old boy,
New South Wales – Regional
“It’s a bit harder to get her motivated to read these days than in the past.”
—Father, 9-year-old girl,
Victoria – Metro
“Teaching kids to read print books encourages reading, without encouraging ‘screen time.’ I personally prefer a physical book to hold,
this is an experience I encourage for both my children.”

—Mother, 1-year-old boy,
New South Wales – Metro
“Digital devices will hopefully let him choose more books as he can do this whenever he wants to.”
—Father, 12-year-old boy, Queensland – Regional
39%
of parents with kids aged 6–17
have personally read an ebook.
“She readily seeks out books, both on the laptop and printed.”
—Grandfather, 14 year-old girl, Queensland – Metro
“If she has fun reading, she will read more books.”
—Father, 6-year-old girl, ACT
“It’s relaxing and easier on the eyes than screens.”
—14-year-old boy,
South Australia – Regional
54%
of parents with kids aged 6–17 and who have read an ebook say
that when they read personally, they prefer to read books in print.
“Books are my way of escaping my normal life.”
—12-year-old girl,
Western Australia – Metro
“My daughter reads both ebooks and print books, but prefers hardcover books and likes to collect book series. She has many bookcases!”
—Mother, 14-year-old girl, Victoria – Metro