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Research & Resources


Interested in what the research says about children and reading? All of the reading facts are relevant to how reading shapes children’s futures. But here’s a synopsis of the child-specific research:

Reading is a Key to Future Success:

“Improving students’ reading … has a strong impact on their opportunities in later life… Levels of interest in and attitudes toward reading, the amount of time students

spend on reading in their free time and the diversity of materials they read are closely associated with performance in reading literacy. Furthermore … 15-year-olds whose parents have the lowest occupational status but who are highly engaged in reading obtain higher average reading scores in PISA than students whose parents have high or medium occupational status but who report to be poorly engaged in reading. This suggests that finding ways to engage students in reading may be one of the most effective ways to leverage social change.”

Statistics indicate that enjoyment of reading amongst children is dropping:

“The percentage of Ontario students in grade 3 who report they “like to read” dropped from 76% in 1998/99 to 50% in 2010/11. The number of students in grade 6 who “like to read” fell from 65% to 50% in the same time period.” from Reading enjoyment on the decline in Ontario Schools, People for Education, January 9, 2012.

Enjoyment of reading is a significant factor in reading test scores:

“Students who say they like to read score 54 points higher [on PIRLS standardized reading tests] than students who do not like reading. — PIRLS

Parents’ enjoyment of reading is a primary influence on children’s:

Children of parents who say they like to read, scored 36 points higher [on PIRLS standardized reading tests] than those whose parents do not ”

“Our findings showed that third-grade students who participated in summer reading programs scored higher on reading tests at the beginning of fourth grade and didn’t experience summer learning loss. They also scored higher on the post-tests than students who did not participate…. Students who participated in summer reading programs entered the following school year with a positive attitude about reading, were more confident in the classroom, read beyond what was required, and perceived reading as important.” ­

– Carole Fiore and Susan Roman, ” Summer Reading Programs Boost Student Achievement, Study Says, ” School Library Journal, November 1, 2010

School libraries are a doorway for children and youth to learn about the world. By design, they are sites for students to explore and develop their own interests, and to foster a love of reading, along with their inquiry and research skills… In Ontario, there appears to be declining support for the role of school libraries. This year, only 56% of elementary schools have a teacher-librarian (eighty percent of them part-time), a number that has fallen steadily from 80% in 1997/98. In high schools, where students do more independent work, the number is higher—66%—but is down from 78% ten years ago. Students in smaller communities and in smaller schools are much less likely to attend schools that have teacher-librarians. Only 19% of elementary schools in Eastern Ontario and 10% of elementary schools in Northern Ontario have teacher-librarians.”

– School Libraries & Information Literacy, from the People for Education Annual Report on Ontario’s Publicly Funded Schools

Library use is associated with a 16% increase “in the probably of a child doing more homework than the average for their peers, and an almost equal decrease in the probability of misbehaviour.” — Rachana Bhatt, “The Impact of Public Library Use on Reading, Television, and Academic Outcomes.” Journal of Urban Economics 62, 8, p. 148-166.

“Children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better than peers who do not. The researchers found a direct correlation between reading for pleasure and better progress in “maths, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of 10 and 16.” Researchers note that the strongest correlation is between reading for pleasure and vocabulary development, although reading helps children absorb and comprehend new material allowing them to excel in all academic subjects. Researchers also found that reading for pleasure is more important for “children’s cognitive development between ages of 10 and 16 than their parents level of education. The combined effect on children’s progress of reading books often, going to the library regularly and reading newspapers at 16 was four times greater than the advantage children gained from having a parent with a degree.” —Claire Battye & Meghan Rainsberry in “Reading for Pleasure puts Children Ahead in the Classroom, Study Finds,” Institute of Education: University of London.


“94% of parents say libraries are important to their children; 79% say they are very important.

84% of parents say library access “inculcates their children’s love of reading and books.”

81% of parents say libraries are important because they “provide their children with information and resources not available at home.” —Carolyn Miller, Katheryn Zickuhr and Kristen Purcell. “Parents, Children, Libraries and Reading: Summary of Findings”


From Towards Sustaining & Encouraging Reading in Canada Society by Sharon Murphy

“A home environment that is supportive of reading is one of the factors that numerous studies identify as being important for the development of leisure reading. Furthermore, many of the patterns of reading established in childhood very commonly persist across the lifespan.” (p. 33)

“The research shows that choice, control, and the implementation of reading as a social activity are key to building a nation of those who love to read versus a nation of those who can read.” (p 46)

“Even though reading is typically thought of as a solitary activity, reading and being a member of a group that reads a particular author or collection of books has direct social benefits through social interaction.” (p. 17)

“Teens in particular identify the importance of working in groups as a key component of fostering reading.”  (p. 19)