The Number of Teens Reading for Fun Keeps Declining
- 45 percent of 17-year-olds admitting they read by choice only once or twice a year
Research released today from Common Sense Media shows that not only do reading rates decline as kids get older, but they’ve also dropped off significantly in the past 30 years. In 1984, 8% of 13-year-olds and 9% of 17-year-olds said they “never” or “hardly ever” read for pleasure. In 2014, that number had almost tripled, to 22% and 27%. Girls also tend to read more than boys, as 18% of boys say they read daily, while 30% of girls do.
Parents are also reading to their kids less than ever. In 1999, children ages 2 to 7 were read to for an average of 45 minutes per day. In 2013, that number had dropped to an average of just over 30 minutes per day. The researchers also found racial disparities: 75% of white children get read to every day, while only 66% of black children do and only 50% of Hispanic children. That disparity can translate into educational differences as well. In 2013, 46% of white fourth graders were reading proficient, while only 18% of black students and 20% of Hispanic students were reading at grade level. Those trends stayed roughly the same through eighth grade.
45% of 17-year-olds say they only read once or twice a year, but in 1984, 64% said they read once a week or more. The researchers also investigated the effects of e-reading, which appear to be gaining traction as a substitute for paper books, even among kids. In 2010, 66% of 9- to 17-year-olds said they were loyal to paper books over e-books. That number dropped to 58% by 2012.