The process of reading is undergoing a paradigm shift where kids are starting to read on smartphones and tablets more than physical print. The quintessential bedtime story book is being replaced by dedicated kids apps and Amazon.
A recent report by the National Literacy Trust in the United Kingdom surveyed 35,000 kids, whose ages ranged from 8-16. It stated that 39% of children and young people read on electronic devices every day, whereas only 28% read printed materials daily. The number of children reading ebooks has doubled in the last two years from 6% to 12%.
There is a very strong desire to read on a tablet to satiate young folks’ literary thirst. 52% of respondents said they would ideally like to read on a tablet and 32% said they would much rather have a physical book. Young ladies statistically are enamored with the physical book with 68% preferring the printed page, whereas boys account for a 54% preference.
The research also found that those who read daily on screen are almost half as likely to be above-average readers than those who read regularly in print (or in print and on screen): 15.5% compared to 26%. Those who read only on screen are also a third as likely to enjoy reading (12% compared to 51%) and to have a favorite book (just 59% of children surveyed who read on screen had one, compared to 77% of kids who prefer to read print books).
Obviously tablets present publishers with very unique opportunities to directly appeal to their target demographic. Reading on larger mobile screens tends to be the favorite, with 36% of children using it as their dedicated reading device. Computers still are fairly popular with 23% and smartphones account for 23%.
Major publishers are sparing no expense on investing lots of money into dedicated apps. HMH has pumped out a ton of content, centered around the Curious George franchise. Barnes and Noble has the best developed Kids ecosystem in the world, with books that parents can narrate for their children. Scholastic Storia tends to be very popular with kids, as does the relaunched Reading Rainbow on the iPad.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.