The 2018 What Kids Are Reading report considers the books read and quizzes taken by schoolchildren between August 1, 2016 and July 31, 2017 in 4,364 schools.
Recommendations for the future seem clear. Pupils should be encouraged to: pass all quizzes, sustain a higher level of challenge in their reading on transfer to secondary school, and sustain Average Percent Correct at or above the 85% level on every book. Teachers should be aware of different pupil reading preferences, and the marked differences in preferences in secondary fiction and non-fiction between boys and girls. Even high-achieving readers need encouragement to sustain high challenge in their reading, especially in secondary. Struggling readers are seriously under-challenged in secondary, and their level of accuracy is low as well. Boys might profess more interest in non-fiction but need encouragement to read it carefully. Books popular with children should guide school purchasing decisions, with a greater emphasis on more challenging books in secondary.
The take-home messages of this report are thus:
The Good News:
1. Many more pupils are using Accelerated Reader quizzes – almost a million children participated this past year.
2. Pupils steadily read more books each year at the beginning of primary school, peaking at 36 books in Year 3.
3. Children consistently read above their chronological age throughout primary school, and non-fiction difficulty has risen dramatically.
4. For high achieving readers, book difficulty increased in Years 3, 4, 5, 7 and 9.
The Less Good News:
1. Book difficulty drops off sharply in Year 7, with secondary students consistently reading behind their chronological age.
2. Secondary-aged boys were reading easier books than last year, but did not improve comprehension.
3. Comprehension was not good among struggling readers – many of the top 20 books were read at below 85% APC.
4. Non-fiction books read in secondary are two years behind chronological ages, and consistently display more male-dominated themes.