Thursday, January 17, 2013

Books: eBooks vs. Print Books- A Study on Reading

This week, Scholastic posted results from their recent national survey of parents and their kids - ages 6-17  (conducted in conjunction with the Harrison Group) "Kids and Family Reading Report - 4th edition*" asking them about their reading habits and preferences, and the results are interesting.

Here are some of their results on the increase and motivational aspects of ebooks:
  • The percent of children who have read an ebook has almost doubled since 2010 (25% in 2010 vs. 46% in 2012);
  • Half the children ages 9-17 would read more books for fun if they had greater access to ebooks (an increase of 50% from 2010);
  • One in four boys who has read an ebook says he is now reading more books for fun (there was no marked increase for girls);
  • 57% of moderately frequent readers (defined as kids who read one to four days a week) who have not read an ebook agree they would read more if they had greater access to ebooks;
  • Kids say that ebooks are better than print books when they do not want their friends to know what they are reading and when they are traveling;
  • 31% of parents who have read an ebook say they personally read more books now than they read before starting to read ebooks;
  • ebooks are read primarily at home (75%) then at school (27%), at a friend's house (15%); at the library (13%) or someplace else (9%);
  • Children and parents identify convenience and interactive properties (such as dictionaries, note taking, and read-aloud options) as the top benefit of ebooks over print books for children;
Here are some results on the the motivational aspects of print books:
  • 80% of kids who read ebooks still read books for fun primarily in print;
  • 58% of kids ages 9-17 say they will always want to read books printed on paper even though there are ebooks available (a slight decline from 66% in 2010);
  • Print books are seen by kids as better sharing with friends and reading at bedtime;
  • 49% of parents prefer their child read print books, 47% do not have a preference, and 4% prefer their child read ebooks. However, 68% of parents with younger kids (ages 6-8) prefer they read print books;
  • Children and parents say the top benefits of print books for kids are not having to charge a battery and being able to see how much they read;
  • 54% of parents say a benefit of print books over ebooks is to give their child time away from technology;
Regarding girl/boy gender preferences, the report notes that the gender gap in reading frequency and attitudes towards reading is narrowing; however, the narrowing of the gap is driven more by decreases among girls than it is by increases in boys.
  • Among girls since 2010, there has been a decline in frequent readers (42% vs. 36%), reading enjoyment (39% vs. 32% say they love reading), and the importance of reading books for fun (62% vs. 56% say it is extremely or very important).
  • Among girls ages 12-17 there was an increase in the amount of time they spend visiting social networking sites and using their smartphones for going online.
  • Among boys since 2010, there has been an increase in reading enjoyment (20% vs. 26% say they love reading), and importance of reading books for fun (39% vs. 47%). Reading frequency among boys has stayed steady, with 32% being frequent readers.
  • The percentage of boys who read 5-7 days a week drops at every age, whereas girls level off in their teens;
What factors most influence kids' reading:
"The study also looked at the influences that impact kids’ reading frequency, and parents ranked extremely high. The report found that having a reading role-model parent or a large book collection at home has a greater impact on kids’ reading frequency than does household income. Plus, building reading into kids’ daily schedules and regularly bringing home books for children positively impacts kids’ reading frequency."
Additional findings related to reading preferences and patterns:
  • 49% of the parents feel their children do not spend enough time reading books for fun (an increase from 2010 when only 36% of parents were dissatisfied with time their child spent reading);
  • Nine out of ten kids say they are more likely to finish a book they choose themselves (same as in 2010);
  • 32% of parents say they are reading new kinds of books they never thought they would read, including children's books and teen fiction;
  • Compared to 2010, fewer boys age 12-14 are playing video games while more boys age 15-17 are going online via computer, visiting social networking sites, and playing video games 5-7 days a week;
  • Young children age 6-11 are more likely to read books (for fun and for school 5-7 days a week) than older children age 12-17;
  • 83% of the children noted positive outcomes of reading a book required for school (42% said they would not have read it otherwise, 40% noted they were surprised by how much they liked it, 39% found a character they really liked, 27% found a series they really liked, 21% said they wanted to lear more about a topic they read about in school, 20% noted they found an author they really liked);
  • 83% of parents have acquired books for their children in the past six months (13 books on average). This is higher for younger children compared to older children;
  • 65% of parents of 6-8 year olds read to their children at least weekly. This drops to 37% of parents with 9-11 year olds.
For the visually literate, here are some of their findings in charts and graphs:

  • Model reading.  Let your kids see you read for pleasure and for work; have books around the house, take them out when at the table to share interesting stories/facts/images/maps.  Make them part of your life.
  • Read aloud at bedtime, while traveling, while waiting at the doctor's office.  Make reading fun and show them the incredible worlds books open up for them.
  • Schedule reading times at home and/or at school - time your kids know are devoted to reading for fun.
  • Read aloud to your OLDER kids at bedtime for as long as they'll let you!  This is particularly important as reading has been found to drop off for older kids.  Reading aloud will keep the world of books alive for them.
  • Graphic novels are great reading choices for good, slow, reluctant and enthusiastic readers, and older readers who move away from print books, and while they may not be readily available to browse in the book store, libraries are great places to check them out, as are many of my blog posts: great non-fiction /historical fiction graphic novels, great kids' graphic novels encouraging critical thinking, my favorite kids' graphic, more great suggestions).
  • Visit libraries and books stores
  • Talk about favorite books or books you are currently reading at family meals, when driving the kids places.  Make books an important part of your life.

Thank you as always for your visit.  Please leave your reading preferences and ways of encouraging your kids to read in the comments.

NOTE: *As noted by Scholastic:
 The study was conducted by Scholastic and managed by Harrison Group, a YouGov Company. Survey data were collected by GfK, and the source of the survey sample of 1,074 pairs of children age 6-17 and their parents was GfK’s nationally representative KnowledgePanel®. 
To download the Kids & Family Reading Report and access audio sound bites, visit
To learn more about Scholastic, visit our media room at To learn about our global literacy campaign, visit


  1. Wow, this is so interesting! It's sad to see that the gap between boys' and girls' reading is due to girls reading less :( But I completely agree that having a parent who reads or a large home library definitely helps in creating kids who develop into avid readers themselves. I really appreciate this post. I'm your newest follower and hope you'll follow back at

    Happy Friday!

  2. Very interesting! I personally prefer hard copy books though I have several ebooks on my Kindle app in my cell phone. But since I am always trying to encourage my grandkids to read - I'll have to add some of their faves to my grandkids iPhone I keep just for them (no longer a phone - just full of fun and educational iPhone apps for them.) Thanks for the grand idea.

  3. ebooks are great but nothing can replace the printed word!

  4. This is a great post. My children have e-readers, as do I, and we all like them, but prefer the printed book.

  5. Meryl, this is SOOO fascinating. With boy/girl twins, it's VERY interesting to watch (and compare) their reading....our son reads FAR more than our daughter....although both read well above level, he simply seems to enjoy it more. Absolutely concur that role-modelling reading is likely the most effective way to instill the love in our kids. THANK YOU for this great post and synopsis....and for linking up with Makes My Monday!

  6. I'm always happy when my boys read for fun, it doesn't matter if its the real thing or an ebook! I love this information, it's so great to know such studies are being done and that there is still an effort put into getting our kids to read.

    Thanks for sharing!


  7. Visiting from the blog hop...already a follower! Love reading with my kids!

  8. All my kids love reading off an iPad. I have not quite got the knack myself but...

  9. I would have read to my daughter longer but she insisted on reading to us as she got older. She started reading so young that she was able to read difficult books aloud to us with very little help with longer words. E-books weren't around yet when my daughter was growing up but I remember a computer program she loved called reader rabbit that we got for her. Carver, ABC Wed. Team

  10. I finally found something my grandson likes - non-fiction! I kept telling my daughter not to push him into "stories" because from my experience as a teacher, the boys prefer to wallow in the yearly Almanac or books that they can pick and choose which pages to read. SO! For Christmas this year, I gave him a book about an African safari with pictures of animals that "move" as you move the book and with information about each animal. Whew! And my daughter likes it, too! :D

    abcw team

  11. I STILL prefer nonfiction. I wrote about my love of physical books over e-books this week.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  12. I wasn't sure how e-books were going to play out when they first were introduced, but they definitely have caught on. I am an avid reader, so I'll take either and enjoy them. My husband, who hates reading, has actually started to buy and read books on our daughter's Nook. So, I say YAY for e-books!

  13. I am the daughter of a reading teacher and a former teacher myself. Reading rocks! Great post!
    Teresa from

  14. This was super helpful, my seven year old really struggles with reading.

  15. Such interesting information! Both the hubby and I are avid readers - and Princess Nagger is an advanced reader (and I love that she loves to read). We even got her her own Kindle for Christmas last year that she's given a good workout along with her physical books. :) Little Dude may be a challenge since he would prefer to play with a book like a toy (and accidentally destroy it) so we don't let him have books in his room like we did for Princess Nagger when she was that age. Hopefully we'll be good examples for him, too! :)

    Bribery, Cracked Eggs, Xylophone Fun and more – Random Tuesday Thoughts Rebel

  16. Great post. I love reading. And I love stats. So this post has it all for me :) Just got back from the library and borrowed 37 books for my 2.5 year old, a regular thing for us...

  17. Interesting stats! Thanks for sharing!!

  18. Thanks for sharing with us at welcome to the weekend hop :)

  19. I've always kept books on hand to share with my 4 year old grandson and now that I have a Kindle Fire, I've started sharing ebooks with him as well. The only difference I've noticed is this: after reading a book, we often move onto a second or third book or into an art/craft or other project. After reading an ebook, he instead wants to move into playing a game, by himself, on the Kindle.

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  23. It is without a doubt that reading plays a significant role in the learning process. I bought several interactive ebooks for children in my 3rd grade class a few months ago. As a school teacher, I have seen first-hand how these tools can bolster children's creativity and imaginations. They served as a great complimentary education tool to help my students learn spelling, grammar, and reading comprehension techniques. The kids certainly enjoy them!