Reading & Literacy

Survey: E-book Popularity Soaring, But Kids Still Love Printed Books

By Catherine Gewertz — January 14, 2013 1 min read
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Children are embracing e-books by the millions, but most say they still would choose the printed version, according to a survey released today.

Scholastic‘s biennial survey of children from 6-17 years old found e-books soaring in popularity: 46 percent of the 1,074 children surveyed said they had read an e-book, compared with 25 percent who said they had in 2010.

The e-book-reading numbers vary by only a few percentage points by gender or age group. But boys were slightly more likely to say that since they started reading e-books, they’re reading more books overall.

Half of the children said they’d read more books for fun if they had better access to e-books. And it’s clear that children are doing the lion’s share of e-book reading at home, rather than in school: Three quarters of the children who have read an e-book have done so at home; only one-quarter said they had read an e-book in school.

E-books are particularly good when students are traveling or on the go, they told researchers, or when they don’t want their friends to know what they’re reading.

But print books clearly still have a big place in children’s lives. Their responses showed that 80 percent of the books they read for fun are in print. They also prefer the printed form over the e-book for reading at bedtime or sharing with friends, the study found.

Fifty-eight percent of the children said they will always want to read books printed on paper even if e-books are available. Two-thirds of children gave the same response in 2010.

Asked about the benefits of e-books, children and parents most frequently cited the convenience of carrying all their books around in one place, and obtaining books wherever they are. Among the e-book attributes they like the most are dictionaries, built-in note-taking and highlighting features, and skill-building activities.

Print books, on the other hand, got high marks from children and parents for not needing batteries, the ease of seeing how much of a book has been read. Children, in particular, cited liking the to hold a print book more than an electronic device. Parents cited liking to “get away from technology.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.