An interesting new study by Scholastic Books and Yankelovich turns conventional wisdom about Internet use and kids’ reading upside down. (Er, that’s the wisdom that’s upside down, not some newfangled acrobatic reading.) According to the 2008 Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report, yes, it’s true that more kids go online than read for fun each day, but high-frequency internet users are actually more likely to read for fun than low-frequency users. And nearly two-thirds of kids 9-17 use the Internet to extend their reading experience by visiting websites about the book or looking for more books by the same author.
Here’s what else they found:
READING FOR FUN: 1 in 4 kids, ages 5-17, said they read books for fun every day, and more than half said they read books for fun at least two or three times a week.
NOT ENOUGH GOOD BOOKS: Kids said they’d read more if they could find books they like. Overall, some 55 percent of kids said “there aren’t enough really good books for boys/girls my age.” The statistic spiked with the 12-14 year old group, where 60 percent echoed that sentiment.
HEY MOM: But parents underestimate both the difficulty kids have in finding something fun to read and their own impact. Hey, Mom? You’re the primary source of book suggestions (65%), but nearly half of you said you had trouble finding good books for your kids to read.
CONCLUSION: The study clearly — and unsurprisingly, seeing as this is Scholastic — points to the importance of getting good books into the hands of children, and providing parents with the tools to find those good reads. Younger kids say they get most of their book suggestions from parents, siblings, teachers and librarians. By the teen years, friends are their primary source. And everyone wants JK Rowling to go write another book.
THE FUTURE: The vast majority of kids anticipate a future where books are all uploaded online, where they can be tagged and shared with friends (87%), and favorites kept on playlists, iPod-style (77%). Books will have links to games and discussion forums (86%), and secret codes and links where readers can join virtual worlds (63%). (OK, this is sounding more and more like the “39 Clues.”)
So here’s the question(s) for you: How do you encourage reading in your home? How do you find good books for your kids? Browse Amazon or your local indie bookstore? Talk to friends? Read newspaper or magazine reviews?