Children still prefer reading physical books, finds Scholastic

The number of children who have read an e-book has almost doubled since 2010 but children still prefer reading books for fun in print, according to Scholastic Inc's Kids and Family Reading Report, 4th Edition.

The publisher surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,074 US children aged six to 17, and their parents, to compile the research on children's reading habits.

Forty-six per cent of children responding to the survey said they had read an e-book, up from 25% in 2010. Meanwhile, 41% of the parents had read an e-book, a big leap up from 14% in 2010. Fifty-one per cent of children who have not read an e-book are interested in doing so.

However more than half (58%) of respondents aged 9-17 said they will always want to read books printed on paper even if there are e-books available, though this was a slight decrease from 66% in 2010. Eighty per cent of children still read mostly print books.

Among the children who have read an e-book, 21% said they are reading more books for fun, with 26% of boys agreeing with the statement. Only 9% overall read fewer books for fun.

Children and parents identified convenience as the most popular benefit to reading e-books, with 57% of children and 50% of parents choosing this reason. Having a read-aloud option was only chosen by 31% of children, and was therefore their least popular benefit, and 22% of parents. Meanwhile, 72% of children cited a dictionary as the most important attribute of an e-book, with 70% choosing note-taking, highlighting and commenting features and 67% choosing built-in activities to make a child a better reader and/or build vocabulary.

Children prefer e-books when they don't want their friends to know what they are reading, and when they are travelling, the survey found, but value print books more when they are reading at bedtime and when they want to share a book with friends.

In terms of children's attitudes to reading, 34% read books for fun 5-7 days a week, down from 37% in 2010, with watching DVDs, TV or video the most popular activity, done five to seven times a week by 67% of children, down marginally on 68% in 2010.

Nearly half, 49%, of parents think their child does not spend enough time reading for fun, according to Scholastic.

Boys aged 6-8 are most likely to read for fun 5-7 days a week, with 48% doing so, going down to 37% of boys aged 9-11, 28% aged 12-14 and 18% aged 15-17. However, while girls aged 6-8 are also most likely to read for fun 5-7 days a week, with 47% doing so, and that drops to 40% of girls aged 9-11, and falls again for girls aged 12-14 to 28%, it rises again for the 15-17 age bracket, to 30%.

Ninety-two percent of children said they are more likely to finish a book they choose themselves.

Meanwhile, digital reading is also meaning that adults are becoming more likely to read a children's or YA book, with 32% of parents who have read an e-book say they now read new kinds of books, including 22% saying they read more children's books, and a separate 22% saying they read more teen fiction.