Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. EA 3.1.b Reading habits of children and youth

04/01/1997

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 in grades 4, 8, and 12 who read more frequently for fun had consistently higher average reading proficiency scores than those students who read less often.32

Differences by Age. In 1994, nearly half of fourth graders (45 percent) reported reading for fun on a daily basis, compared to less than a quarter of eighth and twelfth graders (22 percent and 24 percent, respectively) (see Table EA 3.1.B).

Differences by Gender. In both fourth and eighth grades, larger proportions of girls than boys reported frequent reading in their spare time. For example, more than half (53 percent) of fourth grade girls read for fun on a daily basis, compared to only 36 percent of fourth grade boys in 1994. Among twelfth graders, however, similar proportions of boys (22 percent) and girls (26 percent) reported reading on a daily basis (see Figure EA 3.1.B).

Differences by Race and Ethnicity.33 In 1994, the percentage of fourth graders who reported reading for fun on a daily basis was similar for all racial/ethnic groups. By twelfth grade, rates of daily reading had declined substantially for every racial or ethnic group. In the twelfth grade, white students were the most likely to report reading for fun (see Table EA 3.1.B).
 
 

Figure EA 3.1.B  
Percentage of Students in 4th, 8th, and 12th Grade Who Read for Fun on a Daily Basis, by Gender: 1994  

EA3_1B.GIF

Source: U. S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 1994 Reading Assessment, unpublished data.

Differences by Parent's Educational Levels. Students whose parents had some posthigh school education were more likely to read for fun than students whose parents had not graduated from high school or had no education beyond high school. For example, in 1994, 29 percent of twelfth graders whose parents had graduated from college and 22 percent whose parents had some education after high school read for fun on a daily basis. In contrast, 19 percent of twelfth graders whose parents had graduated from high school (but had no education beyond that) and 18 percent whose parents had not finished high school reported reading for fun on a daily basis. These patterns are similar among eighth graders (see Table EA 3.1.B).

Differences by Type of School. Larger percentages of eighth and twelfth graders who attended non-Catholic private schools read for fun on a daily basis than did their counterparts in public schools (see Table EA 3.1.B).
 

Table EA 3.1.B 
Percentage of Students in 4th, 8th, and 12th Grade Who Read for Fun on a Daily Basis by Gender, Race/Ethnicity, Parent's Education, and Type of School: 1992 and 1994 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
4th Grade 
 
8th Grade 
 
12th Grade 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1992 
1994 
1992 
1994 
1992 
1994 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total
44 
45 
22 
22 
23 
24 
 
Gender
 
 
Male
36 
36 
17 
17 
23 
22 
 
 
Female
51 
53 
27 
26 
22 
26 
 
Race/Ethnicity
 
 
White, non-Hispanic
44 
45 
24 
24 
25 
26 
 
 
Black, non-Hispanic
40 
40 
15 
14 
17 
16 
 
 
Hispanic
44 
43 
17 
16 
18 
18 
 
 
Asian/Pacific Islander
50 
48 
26 
25 
22 
20 
 
 
American Indian
45 
45 
31 
31 
25 
25 
 
Parents Educationa
 
 
Did not finish high school
 
 
18 
13 
14 
18 
 
 
Graduated high school
 
 
18 
16 
18 
19 
 
 
Some education after high school
 
 
23 
24 
22 
22 
 
 
Graduated college
 
 
26 
26 
28 
29 
 
Type of School
 
 
Public schools
43 
45 
21 
21 
22 
24 
 
 
Catholic schools
41 
46 
25 
24 
23 
25 
 
 
Other Private schools
55 
40 
35 
33 
31 
28 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Note: aPercentage reading for fun is not reported by parents education for 4th graders because over a third did not know their parents level of education. Parents education represents the highest level of education reported by the student.  

Source: U. S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 1994 Reading Assessment, unpublished data.

 

32 National Center for Education Statistics (1993). NAEP 1992: Reading Report Card for the Nation and the States. Report No. 23-ST06. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

33 Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races.
 

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