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Has Reading for Fun Become Less Fun? What Parents and Teachers Should Know.

Proficient readers are more successful in school and life, but the “decline by 9” is increasing.

A recent study from the Pew Research Institute indicates that fewer children than ever before report reading for pleasure on a regular basis. The Pew Research Institute studied data collected by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in late 2019 and early 2020. When asked in 2020 how often they read for fun on their own time, 16% of 9-year-olds and 29% of 13-year-olds responding to the survey said that they “never or hardly ever” read for fun. While 42% of 9-year-olds reported reading for pleasure almost each day, only 17% of 13-year-olds said they read for fun almost every day.1 (It should be noted that the study was conducted prior to COVID restrictions that caused most schools to move to online learning.)


NAEP data shows a correlation between test scores and reading for pleasure. Students who achieved higher scores on the reading portion of standardized tests said they read for fun more often. Fifty percent of 9-year-olds who scored in the 75th percentile or above of the NAEP said they read for fun almost daily, while only 39% of those who scored below the 25th percentile said the same.1

The NAEP study has been conducted since 1984, and since then the number of “almost daily” readers has decreased 11% among 9-year-olds and 2% among 13-year-olds, while the number of “never or hardly ever” readers has increased by 7% for 9-year-olds and 21% for 13-year-olds.1

In addition to a general trend of decreased reading for pleasure, another national study—the Kids & Family Reading Report, conducted by Scholastic Inc. and YouGov since 2010—found that as kids get older, they read less frequently, find it less important to read, and enjoy reading less.2 In fact, the downturn in reading books for fun happens between ages 8 and 9 and is referred to as the “decline by 9” in the report.

The “decline by 9” could be caused by a shift from reading for enjoyment to reading for testing purposes. Or it may be due to increased demands on kids’ time, from extracurricular activities to sports. Increased time watching TV or playing video games can also result in a decline in reading for pleasure.3

We know that kids who are proficient readers are more likely to be successful both in school and in their adult lives.4 Teachers and parents need to work together to instill a love of reading in kids, especially in kids ages 9 and older. Reading aloud, creating conversations around books (by starting a book club), letting kids choose their own books, and reading a variety of subject matter at a variety of levels are all strategies that can encourage kids to read more often, just for fun.

Teachers play a critical role in encouraging kids to read. Become an empowered, inspiring educator by earning your teaching degree. If you’re just starting your education, you can pursue a bachelor’s in elementary education. If you want to advance in your teaching career, you can earn a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) – Elementary Education. Walden University, an accredited institution, offers online degree programs to help you become a teacher.

Walden’s online BS in Elementary Education (Teacher Licensure) program can academically prepare you to become a licensed teacher who inspires a love of reading and learning in students, in both public and private schools. To help you prepare for your teaching license exams, Walden provides access to a self-paced test-preparation course at no charge. Walden also will pay for your edTPA—a nationally used performance assessment that measures the skills you need as a new teacher.

Earning your MAT online will help prepare you for the changing education landscape. You’ll build the skills to teach in person or via hybrid or online formats, using the latest technologies. This contemporary, culturally responsive MAT program will also provide you with the insights needed to serve all students across a range of abilities, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Prepare to become an effective elementary school teacher with a bachelor’s in elementary education or a MAT – Elementary Education.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering online programs for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral education degrees. Expand your career options and earn your education degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden is approved by the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) to offer a program leading to a Minnesota Tier 3 license in Elementary Education. All candidates must pass the required Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exams (MTLEs) in order to complete the program. Candidates seeking licensure in Minnesota are responsible for completing any other Minnesota requirements beyond Walden’s state-approved program. The Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) is solely responsible for reviewing applications and issuing licenses.

Individuals interested in licensure in states other than Minnesota may qualify by virtue of completing a state-approved educator preparation program; however, individuals must review their state’s regulations to ensure the program meets all requirements, paying particular attention to any requirements specific to out-of-state program completers. Individuals who reside in certain states may be ineligible to enroll in this program. Walden Enrollment Specialists can provide guidance on licensure questions; however, it remains the individual’s responsibility to understand and comply with all state licensure requirements. Walden makes no representation or guarantee that completion of Walden coursework or programs will permit an individual to obtain state licensure.

Prospective Alabama students: State authorization to provide a program related to the preparation of teachers or other P–12 school/ system personnel does not indicate eligibility for an Alabama professional educator or professional leadership certificate. Applicants who complete an educator preparation program at a non-Alabama institution must apply for an Alabama professional educator or professional leadership certificate through the Alabama Certificate Reciprocity Approach. Current requirements may be found at

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,