What Kids Are Reading

Children ReadingGreen eggs, stick figures navigating school, football, foster children, and teen battles are all found in the books American children are reading. Robin Hood, stick figures navigating school, and teen battles are all found in books United Kingdom children are reading. There are many similar authors being read by US and UK students.

The reading habits are detailed in the 2014 reports for the school year 2012-2013, which was released by Renaissance Learning. The reading choices of school children are tracked through the Renaissance Learning Accelerated Reader (AR) program.

The AR program in schools is designed to increase and encourage students in reading and comprehension. The students choose from a wide selection of books in their reading level for independent reading. After reading the book students individually take a computer quiz that corresponds with the book. AR quizzes are assigned a point value based on the level of the book. Some schools reward prizes to AR scores.

The United States data sample is huge; the reading choices of 9.8 million students in grades 1-12 are detailed in the 2014 “What Kids Are Reading” report. Much of the data is in charts and tables by grade level and categories “overall” and by gender, with essays by authors and education experts.

The UK data sample is smaller but for the first time it includes regional data. This reveals differences in books chosen by children in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Jeff Kinney, Roald Dahl, Roderick Hunt, Francesca Simon, David Walliams, Suzanne Collins, and JK Rowling are the top authors children are reading in the UK. There are similarities and differences in the books read by children in the different regions. Jeff Kinney is popular in England and Scotland, whereas Michael Morpurgo is popular in Wales and Francesca Simon is popular in Northern Ireland.

The top authors being read by children in the U.S. are: Dr. Seuss, Laura Numeroff “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” , “Biscuit” series by Alyssa Satin Capucilli , Jeff Kinney, and Suzanne Collins. In the high school level some classics show in the top spots: “Walden” by Thoreau, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller “and several works by Shakespeare.

Many of the books listed have been adapted into movies or computer games: JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, and JRR Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Other media can support literacy by drawing children to books of authors they have seen in movies and games.

The reading levels (ATOS) assigned to AR books are based on research and formulas. The formulas take into account words per sentence, grade level vocabulary list, and characters per word.

The annual reports are released to encourage reading by assisting parents, teachers, and librarians to find books children will enjoy. Both reports (US and UK) are interesting  to read.

Online:  What Kids Are Reading 2014 (US)
What Kids Are Reading (UK)

Photo by David Shankbone 

Favorite Books #1 in UK and US

Year 1 UK

the Secret Room

Years 2 & 3 UK

The Gruffalo

Year 4

The Twits

Year 5

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1

Year 6 UK

Dog Days (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 4)

Year 7 UK

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1

Years 8 through 11 UK

The Hunger Games (Book 1)

Grade 1 US

Green Eggs and Ham

Grade 2 US

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type

Grades 3 through 6 US

The Third Wheel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 7)

Grades 7 through 10 US

The Hunger Games (Book 1)

Grade 11 US

The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts (Penguin Plays)

Grade 12 US

The Hunger Games (Book 1)

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