Most children are infrequent readers – survey

A new survey on the reading habits and preferences of children has revealed that the majority of Australian kids aren’t the readers their schools need them to be.

More than 60% of children aged six to 17 are not frequent readers, according to a new study by Scholastic Australia and YouGov, a leading market research company.

The study, conducted in late 2015, explored family attitudes and behaviours in Australia around reading books for fun.

The key findings of the research were based on a nationally representative sample of 1,748 parents and children. This included 358 parents of children aged 0–5, 695 parents of children aged 6–17 and one child aged 6–17 from the same household.

Among the key findings of the survey, more than half of children aged 6–17 (58%) believed reading books for fun was extremely or very important and 60% of kids also said they loved reading books for fun or liked it a lot.

However, just over one-third of children aged 6–17 (37%) reported they were frequent readers, with kids aged 6–8 being the most likely to read 5–7 days a week.

‘Screen time’ competing with books

The survey found that as children grow older, reading competes with many screen-related activities.

Seventy-five percent of parents with kids aged 6–17 said they wished their child “would do more things that did not involve screen time”.

Across ages, 76% said they knew they should read more books for fun, while 78% of parents said they wished their child would read more books for fun.

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.