Reading Habits and Youth!

What does research say about reading and youth? 


Reading is a key, not only to access information but also to succeed. Children who are engaged in reading activities are more likely to be active learners. According to a PISA OECD (2011) study, there is a strong link between reading habits, motivation, and reading proficiency. "Reading proficiency is crucial for individuals to make sense of the world they live in and to continue learning throughout their lives" ("Do students today read for pleasure?", 2011). 


Now, reading daily for enjoyment increases reading proficiency rates more than just spending additional time reading:

  • On average, students who read daily for fun scored the equivalent of one-and-a-half years of schooling better than those who do not ("Do students today read for pleasure?", 2011). 
  • Reading for enjoyment is highly associated with high-scores in the PISA reading assessments (OECD, 2011). 
  • Other benefits of reading for pleasure include text comprehension, proper grammar, increased general knowledge, among others (Clark and Rumbold, 2006). 
  • Reading for pleasure is strongly influenced by relationships between teachers and children, and children and families (Cremin et al., 2009).   

Studies in reading patterns revealed that there had been some changes in the numbers of young people reading for pleasure: 


From 2000 to 2009, as many as 22 OECD countries, saw a decrease in the percentage of students who read for enjoyment. "Fifteen-year-old students in 2009 tended to be less enthusiastic about reading than students in 2000" ("Do students today read for pleasure?", 2011). In 2000, 69% enjoyed reading vs. 2009, where 64% reported enjoying reading (OECD, 2011). 


How about reading eBooks?


Nowadays, there is a widespread belief that young people have a preference for screen-based reading. However, this claim is not backed up by research (Merga, 2015). In a study involving youth preferences, those who had regular access to devices with the eReading capability, (i.e., Kindles, iPads, and mobile phones), did not tend to use them for reading,  even when users were already daily book readers (Merga, 2015). Findings suggested that adolescents do not necessarily find eBook reading more appealing than reading paper books.  


A Bamberg BiKS longitudinal study, with 1226 secondary school participants, confirmed the importance of traditional book reading for the development of reading comprehension and vocabulary (Pfost, Dörfler & Artelt, 2013). 



Some strategies to improve independent reading include having access to resources, literacy-target rewards (i.e. book vouchers), and an appropriate home environment that encourages the early teaching of reading (Clark and Rumbold, 2009). 


Some tips to have a pleasant reading experience:

  • Treat reading like exercise: Create a routine; you need to make time for it.
  • Create a reading-friendly space at home or school.
  • Eliminate nearby loud noises, poor lighting, and distractions that will likely lead to frustrations.
  • Encourage your child to read self-selected books for pleasure.
  • Talk about books, sharing ideas and recommendations.

And, remember, reading remains important for both children and adults to build and retain literacy skills.




Clark, C., and Rumbold, K. (2006). Reading for Pleasure a research overview. The National Literacy Trust.


Cremin, T., Mottram, M., Collins, F., Powell, S. and Safford, K. (2009). Teachers as Readers: Building Communities of Readers 2007-08 Executive Summary. The United Kingdom Literacy Association.


Do students today read for pleasure? (2011). PISA IN FOCUS - OECD. Retrieved from


Merga, M. (2017). English in Australia - Are teenagers really keen digital readers? Adolescent engagement in eBook reading and the relevance of paper books today (Humanities & Social Sciences Collection) - Informit.


Pfost, M., Dorfler, T., & Artelt, C. (2013). Students' extracurricular reading behavior and the development of vocabulary and reading comprehension.


This is why children prefer real books. (2017). World Economic Forum. Retrieved from