Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 2000. EA 3.2 Reading Habits of Children and Youth

01/01/2000

Independent reading is one necessary aspect of literacy development. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has documented the association between students who read for fun in their free time and reading achievement. Students ages 9, 13, and 17 who read more frequently for fun had consistently higher average reading proficiency scores than those students who read less often.47 Table EA 3.2 presents the percentage of students who read for fun on a daily basis for three age groups (9-, 13-, and 17-year-olds).

Differences by Age. In 1996, over half of 9-year-olds (54 percent) reported reading for fun on a daily basis, compared with about one-third of 13-year-olds (32 percent) and about one-quarter of 17-year-olds (23 percent) (see Table EA 3.2).

Differences by Gender. Among children ages 9 and 13, larger proportions of girls than boys reported frequent reading in their spare time. For example, more than half (57 percent) of 9-year-old girls read for fun on a daily basis, compared with 51 percent of 9-year-old boys, in 1996. Among 17-year-olds, however, similar proportions of boys (22 percent) and girls (24 percent) reported reading on a daily basis in 1996 (see Figure EA 3.2).

Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin.48 In 1996, the percentage of 9-, 13-, and 17-year-olds who reported reading for fun on a daily basis was similar for all racial/ethnic groups (see Table EA 3.2).

Differences by Parents’ Education Level.49 In 1996, 13-year-olds whose better-educated parent had some education after high school were more likely to read for fun than students whose parent(s) had no education beyond high school (see Table EA 3.2). A similar pattern is found among 17-year-olds; for example, in 1996, 28 percent of 17-year-olds whose better-educated parent had graduated from college read for fun on a daily basis. In contrast, 18 percent of 17-year-olds whose parent(s) had graduated from high school (but had no education beyond that) and 14 percent whose parent(s) had not finished high school reported reading for fun on a daily basis (see Table EA 3.2).

Differences by Type of School. Larger percentages of 13- and 17-year-olds who attended nonpublic schools read for fun on a daily basis than did their counterparts in public schools (see Table EA 3.2). Among 9-year-olds, a larger percentage of public school students reported reading for fun in 1992 and 1994, but this pattern reversed in 1996 (see Table EA 3.2).

 

47 Campbell, Voelkl, & Donahue. 1997, p. 141.
48 Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races.
49 Parents’ education level refers to the highest level of education completed by either parent.

 

Table EA 3.2 Percentage of students ages 9, 13, and 17 in the United States who read for fun on a daily basis, by gender, race and Hispanic origin,a parents’ education level,b and type of school: 1992, 1994, and 1996

  Age 9  Age 13   Age 17
  1992 1994 1996 1992 1994 1996 1992 1994 1996
Total 56 58 54 37 32 32 27 30 23
Gender
Male 48 49 51 30 25 27 23 29 22
Female 64 66 57 44 39 38 30 30 24
Race and Hispanic origina
White, non-Hispanic 57 58 54 37 38 33 29 34 24
Black, non-Hispanic 54 58 51 35 18 29 14 16 21
Hispanic 54 58 56 44 15 28 25 17 21
Parents’ education levelb
Less than high school 16 24 29 23 15 14
Graduated high school 33 28 28 16 25 18
Some education after high school 37 40 41 28 30 22
Graduated college 44 37 34 35 36 28
Type of school
Public 57 57 54 36 31 33 26 29 21
Nonpublic 52 54 61 49 40 36 44 46 28

a Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
b Parents’ education level refers to the highest level of education completed by either parent.
Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 1992, 1994, and 1996 Long-Term Trends, Reading Assessment, unpublished data. Tabulated by U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

 

Figure EA 3.2 Percentage of students ages 9, 13, and 17 in the United States who read for fun on a daily basis, by gender: 1996

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 1992, 1994, and 1996 Long-Term Trends, Reading Assessment, unpublished data. Tabulated by U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.
 

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