Are teenagers still reading as much as they used to? In today’s digital-first world, reading can almost seem like an old-fashioned concept. Many younger adults are spending their free time online, browsing social media, or playing on immersive new consoles, rather than reading.
While teenager reading statistics show there’s still hope for the next generation of readers, there are some major changes in the marketplace publishers and writers should be aware of. As we head into an environment where new generations are taking over the marketplace, it could be time to reassess how big the market is for teenage readers.
What do you like most about reading?
For us, it’s the ability to transport yourself to whole new worlds with just a few words. To see yourself in a character, or see through their eyes. To explore places you never knew existed, and learn things you never thought you would.
It’s also a way to connect with people (we’re looking at you). When we read something that makes us laugh or reflect on our own lives, we often find ourselves reaching out to others for their take on things—and it’s even better when we find someone who feels the same way.
That’s why we were excited to track down some interesting teenage reading stats that might inspire some conversation with your friends and family. Check out what we found below.
Teenage Reading Statistics
Here are some of the most significant statistics you should know about teenage reading habits.
1. Themes for teenage reading are changing
(Business Research Company)
The Business Research Company conducted a study in 2021 into the children and young adult books market (including teenage readers). According to this survey, companies are increasingly offering books based on popular video games, helping to bridge the gap between the digital revolution for teenagers, and the art of reading.
Books based on popular video game characters are helping children to generate an interest in reading, which makes them feel as though they’re extending the lives of their favorite games. Popular book companies offer a range of options about Super Mario, Pokémon, and Sonic.
The Business Research Company believes these new themes will help to prevent children from losing interest in reading.
2. 1 in 2 young people in the UK still say they like reading
A study published by the National Literacy Trust of the UK in 2021 found 51.5% of children and young people (including teenagers) said they enjoyed reading. This number is slightly lower than the number recorded during Spring 2020 (55.9%) but is still higher than the numbers recorded at the start of 2020 (47.8%).
The year between 2020 and 2021 had a particularly detrimental impact on the reading enjoyment of young boys receiving Free School Meals, with only 2 in 5 of those boys saying they enjoyed reading.
3. People between the ages of 15 and 44 read around 10 minutes or less per day
(Bureau of Labor Statistics)
A survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the USA revealed some interesting facts about the reading habits of teenagers and young adults alike. According to this report, people between the ages of 15 and 44 only read for an average of 10 minutes or less per day.
This age group is also more likely to engage in other entertainment activities than they are to read a book. For instance, someone between the ages of 15 and 19 would be more likely to watch television or tune into social media than read a book.
4. 1 in 3 teenagers say they haven’t read a book for pleasure in a year
(Psychology of Popular Media)
Research into the popular media being accessed by young children and teenagers in their free time indicates around 1 in 3 teenagers haven’t read a book in over a year for pleasure. Though children are still reading for educational purposes, they may not be turning to books as often for recreation.
This change in reading habits could be attributed to the increasing popularity of other forms of entertainment, including gaming platforms and social media.
5. The Global Children and Young Adult book market is expected to reach $21.95 billion in 2025
(Business Research Company)
Insights from the Business Research Company on the state of teenage and young adult reading in 2021 indicate the growth of the industry is slowing slightly in recent years. Between the years of 2020 and 2021, the marketplace grew from $16.88 billion to $18.2 billion, representing a CAGR of 7.8%.
From 2021 to 2025, however, the Business Research company believes the market will only reach around $21.95 billion in value, dropping to a CAGR of 4.8%.
Interestingly, the top ten competitors in the children and teenager reading market account for around 60.98% of the market share, including brands like the Penguin Random House and HarperCollins.
6. A study of children in the UK revealed that 34% admitted to being frequent readers
In a United Kingdom study of reading among children, one-third of children between the ages of 6 and 17 said they are frequent readers, who read for fun between 5 and 7 days per week.
However, younger children are more likely to be frequent readers, with 54% of children between the ages of 6 and 8 identifying as frequent readers compared to only 17% of children between the ages of 15 and 17.
As children get older, the study shows reading tends to compete with many screen-related activities. Less than one-third of kids under the age of 12 in the report said they went online 5-7 days per week, but 62% of children between the ages of 12-14 go online frequently instead of reading. 80% of children between the ages of 15-17 use a smartphone frequently.
7. 38% of German teenagers read every day or several times per week.
The frequency with which teenagers decide to read will often depend on where they are in the world. According to a report from Statista conducted during 2021, around 38% of 12 to 13 year olds in Germany read on a daily basis, or several times per week.
Among older teenagers, those aged 14 and above, around 12.6 million said they read books several times per week, during their free time. This was compared to around 18.1 million people who read less than once per month.
8. 30% of children and teenagers read in their spare time during 2021
During the pandemic in 2021, only around 3 in 10 teenagers and children said they read something on a daily basis in their spare time. The gap in daily reading, according to the report conducted by the Literacy Trust, was significant between those who received free school meals and those who didn’t.
The report into reading behavior by the Literacy Trust also found reading to relax was the number one reason to pick up a book for teenagers, with 52.7% of children citing this reason. 51.4% of teenagers said they read to learn something, and 49.8% said they read to learn new words.
Around 2 in 5 children agreed reading made them feel better.
9. A typical teenage American reads for just 8.4 minutes per day
According to a recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans aged between 15 and 19 spent a mere 8.4 minutes reading per day on average in 2020. This is down from 9 minutes in 2019, and around 50 minutes less than those of—age 75 and older, who read for an average of 57 minutes per day.
This is a worrying trend, as reading for pleasure has been shown to help develop literacy skills, which are vital to accessing employment opportunities and gaining financial independence when teens reach adulthood.
The reduction in reading time is due to growing interest in screen-based entertainment, as well as increased social media use among teens.
10. Reading time among teenagers dropped between 2019 and 2020
(Bureau of Labor Statistics)
The Bureau of Labor Statistics annual report on time spent engaging in recreational activities within the United States showed some interesting facts about reading. Overall, the time people spend reading in their daily lives has increased from 0.28 to 0.34 hours among all Americans over the age of 15.
However, Teenagers were one of the only age groups expressing a drop in their reading time, from 0.15 to 0.14 hours per day. The only other age group who read less in 2020 than they did in 2019 was the 45-54 year old group.
11. 32% of teens say they read for pleasure less than once per month
The Common Sense media study into teenage consumption of media and entertainment found enjoyment of reading seems to decrease with a teenager’s age. Around 66% of tweens and 51% of teens in the study said they read for fun at least once per week. However, 22% of tweens and 32% of teens say they read less than once a month.
17% of teens say they don’t always read once per month, and 15% say they never read for pleasure. While 38% of tweens say they enjoy reading a lot, and 35% claim to be daily readers, only 24% of teens enjoy reading a lot, and 22% read daily.
Notably, the report found children with a parent who had a college degree were more likely to enjoy reading. 37% enjoyed it a lot, compared to 24% with parents who had no more than a high school degree.
(Business Research Company)
Studies by the Business Research Company into the changing market for young adult and children’s books in the post-pandemic landscape represents a significant opportunity in the Asia Pacific Region. In 2020, this landscape accounted for 34.4% of the total market share.
Going forward, the BRC believes North America and Western Europe will continue to be some of the fastest-growing landscapes for teenage reading. Additionally, the Middle East and South Africa could play a significant role in global growth, representing CAGRs of 13% and 9.7% respectively.
13. 44% of teenagers in Wales say they never or rarely read
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development carried out across 79 countries revealed teenagers in Wales are spending much less time reading. Approximately 44% of the pupils surveyed in Wales (3,165 pu0pils in total) said they rarely or never read.
On average, 35% of all the students across 79 countries evaluated by the study said they rarely, or never pick up a book. In 2018, 57% of students in Wales even said they only read “if they have to”.
Despite saying they read less than most, the OECD study found significant confidence among Welsh readers. 83% strongly agreed or agreed with the phrase, “I am a good reader”, compared to 71% for all the 79 countries overall.
14. Teenage girls are more likely to enjoy reading than teenage boys
According to a study by the “Common Sense” group, teenage and young girls are more likely to engage in reading as one of their favorite activities than young boys.
Overall girls ranked listening to music as their number one activity, followed by watching online videos, consuming social media, and watching TV. Compared to music which ranked as the top form of entertainment for 75% of girls, reading was only chosen by around 36% of girls in total.
For boys between the ages of 13 and 18 in the study, only approximately 25% chose reading as their favorite activity, making it the least popular form of entertainment on the list.
A study conducted by the American Psychological Association and published in the “Psychology of Popular Media Culture” journal found reading is rapidly being replaced by social media. Less than 20% of teenagers in the 2018 study said they report reading books, magazines, or even newspapers daily for pleasure.
Alternatively, around 80% of teenagers said they use social media first. According to the researchers from the study, compared to previous generations, teens in the 2010s spent more time on the web and less time consuming traditional media.
Even watching television as less common than checking social media or playing games on the internet, according to the report.
16. The global marketplace for books is steadily growing by 2.4% per year
Despite changing preferences among younger generations, the overall industry for books is still growing – if only at a very slow rate. The global market for books in 2020 was valued at around $132.1 billion. Today, it’s expected to grow at a CAGR of around 2.4% between the years 2021 and 2028, thanks to the easy accessibility of books.
Crucially, according to the Grandview research report, rising customer spending and increased access to various kinds of books, including digital publications and audiobooks is likely to increase the potential of the book market in the years ahead.
17. Teenagers prefer paperbacks or hardcovers rather than eBooks
The digital nature of the new entertainment landscape may lead you to believe younger customers may be more drawn to eBooks than paper novels. However, according to Nielsen studies, around 20% of teens buy eBooks, compared to around 25% of 20 to 44 year olds and 23% of 18 to 29-year-olds.
According to the report, the lack of appeal among eBooks could have something to do with teenagers not being able to access e-readers easily, and teenagers being more heavily influenced on what to read by their peers (seeing other people reading).
If you’re a young reader yourself, we hope this has given you a better idea of your own preferences and habits. If you’re an educator or parent, maybe you’ve gained some insight into how best to encourage your teen readers to read more often!
And if you work in publishing or marketing, we hope that these statistics have offered you some insight into the teen reading market, so that you can publish and promote your books with confidence.
Whatever your role in the world of books and reading, we hope these stats were informative and fun to read!
For parents, I’d like to share a few tips for improving your kids’ reading habits, here they are:
- Make reading a ritual. Set aside a time during the day when your kids read, and make it an event. Read aloud to them before bed or before school, or right after dinner.
- Get kids involved in the decision-making process when choosing their books. Have them visit the library or bookstore with you and let them choose something they’re genuinely interested in.
- Set an example by being a reader yourself! If your kids see you reading often, they’ll be more likely to pick up the habit themselves—and it will be a good way for you to connect with them about what they’re reading as well!
And so, we come to the end of our blog post. If you liked these statistics, please share them with friends, family members, and colleagues to help spread the word about what teens are reading.
We love statistics as much as we love teenagers (who doesn’t?), so keep checking back for more—and we’ll see you soon!
As always, thanks for reading!