Allison's Book Bag

What Do Young People Want in Books?

Posted on: December 8, 2015

What do young people want in books? Scholastic conducted a survey earlier this year to answer this question. The survey was part of The Kids & Family Reading Report, which reports on the attitudes and behaviors about reading books of young people. The total sample size of 2,558 parents and children included 506 parents of children age 0–5 and 1,026 parents of children ages 6–17.

A reason this survey interested me is that I teach reading to struggling students in elementary school. Earlier in the calendar year, after yet another student sighed about their assigned reading selection, I decided to seek out their opinions about what I should change. They readily showed excitement over video games and movies. Why couldn’t I similarly engage them with books?

My informal survey resulted in these answers as to why students like to read:

  •  It’s fun
  • You can learn stuff
  • You can learn big words
  • It’s good for you

You’ll notice that most answers are akin to those given about why one should eat fruits and vegetables, which is that they’re good for one.

Reasons students don’t like to read:

  • It’s boring
  • Books are picked for us
  • The words are hard
  • I have to read aloud

I felt most surprised by the fact that students could articulate their reasons, as well as by the fact that most of their reasons could be remedied.

Now look at this statement from Scholastic: “Children across age groups overwhelmingly agree that their favorite books—and the ones they are most likely to finish—are the ones they pick out themselves.” Hmm, doesn’t that sound familiar?

Here’s a similar statement: “Nearly three-quarters of both boys and girls (73%) say they would read more if they could find more books they like.”

The survey provides other enlightening data, which you can check out for yourself. The final statistic I’ll share involves ways parents encourage their child to read books for fun. Some examples were taking their child to a book fair or to the library and always having books around for their child to read or even giving books as gifts. Parents also limit screen time, introduce their child to movie-based books, and read the same books as their child.

Myself, I’m convinced that I grew up with a love of books thanks to my dad reading aloud to me, introducing books to me through the library and as gifts, and being a reader himself. When it comes to my students, those whom I’m most able to engage seem to have parents with similar values.

What have you found young people want in books? How do you think we should encourage young people to read?

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2 Responses to "What Do Young People Want in Books?"

“’Children across age groups overwhelmingly agree that their favorite books—and the ones they are most likely to finish—are the ones they pick out themselves.’ Hmm, doesn’t that sound familiar?” It sure does!

By far at school, Diary of a Wimpy Kid still remains a favorite with my boy students. My girl students tend to have more varied interests, wanting mysteries, humor, books about animals or princesses, and more. I try when possible to fit in read aloud time for those books my students have as favorites.

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