54% of U.S. kids have never read an ebook: New report

Scholastic, the world’s largest children’s publisher, released its biannual report on children and reading Monday morning. The study, conducted in partnership with the Harrison Group in fall 2012, surveyed 1,048 U.S. children ages 6 to 17 and their parents about their families’ reading habits. A few of the findings:

Most kids still haven’t read an ebook.

46 percent of kids have read an ebook, up from 25 percent in 2010. (That’s actually a higher percentage than their parents: 41 percent of parents had read an ebook, up from 14 percent in 2010.) This means, of course, that 54 percent of kids still haven’t read one.

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57 percent of girls who had never read an ebook said that they wanted to, compared to 46 percent of boys. I asked Scholastic if the company also broke down the percentage of children who had never read an ebook by gender, and they did: 52 percent of the kids who’d never read an ebook were boys and 48 percent were girls. Based on the survey’s sample size, Scholastic says, this difference wasn’t statistically significant.

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Huge growth in reading on tablets.

The most popular device for e-reading was a laptop or netbook, which 22 percent of children surveyed had used to read an ebook. The largest growth came from tablets — not surprising since the iPad (s AAPL) launched in 2010, the last time this survey was conducted.

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Kids claim they’d read more if they had more access to ebooks.

“I really need an iPad so I can read more,” wily children tell gullible parents. Just kidding! Although possibly a factor here.

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Kids want a dictionary and note-taking features.

I loved this breakdown of the features that kids want versus the features that adults want in children’s ebooks. When you look at this, it becomes clear that many children’s ebook startups have been built around features that parents want (like “read-along” options and reading time tracking) — and it looks as if, in fact, kids are more interested in standard e-reading features like highlighting and note-taking.

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The full report is here as a free PDF.