December 9, 2014

Scholastic’s Reading Report proves stuff most people assumed anyway



An example of children reading.

This week, in statistics that seem high but should probably be higher, Scholastic is reporting that 73% of kids ages 6-17 would read more books if they could find more books they liked. This comes from a sneak peak of their biannual “Kids and Family Reading Report” which is set to be published fully in January of 2015.

At first glance, 73% sounds like quite a bit. Then, I started thinking about the question, which puts forth the theoretical guarantee that the child will like the book. Under the parameters of the question, it is impossible for the child to not like the book. Still, 27% said that they’d pass and do something cool like eat Funyuns and play hopscotch (or whatever the kids are doing these days). (I’m only four years out of this demographic but don’t tell anyone).

Anyway, the preview of the study does contain some interesting information. The study investigated what kids might look for in a book, and found interesting, if not unsurprising, results. 70% of kids want a book that can make them laugh and 54% want a book that lets them use their imagination.

Maybe the important piece of information within the limited preview of the study comes from the section where the demographic is further specified. 6-8 year olds, for example, are more likely to seek out “books with character that look like them.” This sentiment is very much instep with the #WeNeedMoreDiverseBooks movement that’s been gaining traction since BookCon earlier this year.

The specified demographics also reveals that 15-17 year olds are more likely than those their junior to seek out books that “let them forget about real life for a while.” It makes sense, as I’m sure almost anyone over the age of 15 can say, but the phrasing of the sentence really feels like a coded way of saying “I need a drink, but I’m not old enough to ask for one.” Everyone understands escapism, but it feels a little different when the phrasing feels lifted from a bar scene in a rejected Sin City 2 script draft.

The study was conducted by YouGov, who are “a pioneer in online research.” The study’s sample includes 1026 parents of children ages 6-17, as well as one child ages 6-17 from each of those households. When the study is released in January, maybe we’ll find out why 27% of children are willing to turn down a sure thing. Until then, I’ll blame Grand Theft Auto.