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Will the Youngest Generation Be the Biggest Readers?

Parents and kids sound off in our newest survey

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • April 28, 2024

Many worry that the proliferation of screen-based entertainment is eclipsing literature for younger generations. Book-loving parents diligently search for ways to raise readers. Our most recent survey with OnePoll sought to gauge how well this is working. We asked 2,000 U.S. parents and their children about their reading habits, popular and classic books, and summer reading assignments. The story we uncovered offered some fascinating twists and turns. image displays survey results mentioned in this blog through bar charts, pie charts, and through text.

The kids are alright!  

In a surprise twist, over half of the parents polled (51%) confess that their child is more well-read than them. The details: Parents reported that their children read more books than they do (70%), remember more of what they read (27%), and read higher-quality books (20%). The youngsters emphatically agree and six out of 10 say that they have better taste in books than their parents. Nearly eight in 10 parents (78%) say that their children inspire them to read more.

Summer reading programs are integral.

On average, kids have been assigned to read three books this summer and are also reading along with a challenge at their local library (35%), their class at school (31%), or with a book club (13%).

The most commonly assigned books this year for kids aged 8–13 include the following books or series:

Assignments for older kids, aged 14–17, include:

"It's great to see that the majority of kids plan to complete a summer reading challenge this year and also that kids are reading a fun mix of classic and contemporary books," said Barbara Hagen, vice president of sales and marketing at ThriftBooks.

Young readers enjoy a robust mix of genres.

When asked to pick their favorite genres, kids said action and adventure books (54%), mystery (49%), fantasy (48%) and spooky/horror books (40%). Some of this summer's most popular new middle-grade titles for kids include:

  • The Misfits #1: A Royal Conundrum by Lisa Yee—When a notorious thief is out for priceless treasure, who are you gonna call? An elite team of crime-fighting underdogs, that's who!
  • The Adventures of Invisible Boy by Doogie Horner—In this hilarious debut graphic novel, when an impossible wish comes true, a wild adventure begins.
  • Bumps in the Night by Amalie Howard—A spine-tingling fantasy about a girl who goes to stay with her grandmother in Trinidad and discovers that she comes from a long line of witches.
  • Max in the House of Spies by Adam Gidwitz—The first in a duology, this thought-provoking World War II story is fast-paced and hilarious, with a dash of magic and a lot of heart.
  • Uprising by Jennifer A. Nielsen—This thriller is based on the remarkable true story of a young Polish girl who bravely fought in the Warsaw city uprising, taking a stand in the name of freedom.
  • Ferris by Kate DiCamillo—It's the summer before fifth grade and for Ferris, it's a summer of pandemonium. A hilarious and achingly real love story about a girl, a ghost, a grandmother, and growing up.

And here are a few teen and YA new releases we're excited about:

  • Once a Queen by Sarah Arthur—A mysterious manor house hides the keys to shocking family secrets in the richly woven opener to a new fantasy series.
  • ASAP by Axie Oh—A much anticipated companion novel to XOXO, following fan favorites Sori and Nathaniel in a swoon-worthy second chance K-pop love story.
  • A Tempest of Tea by Hafsah Faizal—The first in a fantasy duology teeming with romance and revenge about an orphan girl who will do whatever it takes to save her self-made kingdom.
  • The Diablo's Curse by Gabe Cole Novoa—A teen demon who wants to be human and a boy cursed to die young embark on a high-stakes race against the murderous island destined to bury them both.

Even the kids prefer good old-fashioned books.

The majority of kids reported they usually read physical books, with 55 percent choosing hardcover and 51 percent choosing paperback as their preferred format. Only 25 percent read digitally, via audiobooks or ebooks.

The family that reads together . . .

The poll found that, of all the people in their lives, they see their moms (63%) and dads (20%) reading the most. And 82 percent of parents whose child has a reading assignment this summer said they plan to join their child on their reading adventure.

Parents said they were excited to see the way that reading helps their children in the following ways:

  • Grow in knowledge (48%)
  • Gain new skills (48%)
  • Learn about different perspectives (41%)
  • Become more cultured and curious about the world (41%)

"For parents with kids doing summer reading, 31 percent said they’re bonding more with their child because they’re reading together. So not only is reading important intellectually, it’s so important emotionally too," said Hagen. Six in 10 parents reported that they plan to introduce their children to their favorite books.

The classics are still in rotation.

When asked what books they’re most excited to read in the future, the top-ranking books were Charlotte's Web (27%) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (26%), out of a list of commonly assigned books.

That lines up pretty well with the books parents are most excited to share with their children: Charlotte's Web (34%), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (32%), and To Kill a Mockingbird (29%).

The majority of parents (57%) plan to discuss books together and provide a comfortable and quiet reading environment (51%) as a means of motivating and supporting their child to complete their summer reading assignment. Although 11 percent unabashedly plan to pay their children to complete their reading. We're not judging, but the best way we've found to get kids excited to read is to put exciting books in their hands!

You can follow us on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram where we share daily book recommendations, literary tidbits, and more.

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 American parents with an 8-17-year-old child was commissioned by ThriftBooks between Apr. 4 and Apr. 10, 2024. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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