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Goodbye paperbacks and paper cuts, Captain Obvious reports e-books are the future of reading

The percentage of kids reading e-books has almost doubled in the last couple of years, with a number of children who have read e-books saying they would read more if they had better access to digital publications, according to a new study on the reading habits of America’s youth.

According to the fourth edition of the Kids & Family Reading Report, a bi-annual study published by leading children’s publishing, education and media company Scholastic in conjunction with the Harrison Group, a marketing and strategic research consulting firm, e-books are looking increasingly like the tool necessary to change reading from a required (and therefore, not “fun”) pastime to something that kids want to do of their own choice. More than half of the children who took part of the survey were considered “moderately frequent readers” – 57 percent, to be precise – with “moderately frequent” defined as kids who read one to four days a week.

Additionally, one in four boys – a traditionally difficult group to motivate in terms of voluntary reading – said they are now reading more books for fun having enjoyed the experience via an e-book. Overall, 50 percent of all children aged 9-17 that took part in the study said they would read more books for fun if they had more access to e-books, with that itself a 50 percent increase when compared to the answers to the same question asked two years ago.

Compared to the 2010 report, the reach of e-books has doubled in children, with 46 percent of the 9-17 year-olds taking part this time compared to just 25 percent two years ago. Also, sadly, up is the percent of parents who feel that their children don’t read enough for fun; that number jumped from 36 percent in 2010 to 49 percent in the latest report. The amount of parents who are interested in giving their children e-books is now at 72 percent and, let’s be honest, likely to rise if they see the interest expressed in them from the children taking part in this study.

“We are seeing that kids today are drawn to both print and e-books, yet e-reading seems to offer an exciting opportunity to attract and motivate boys and reluctant readers to read more books,” Scholastic’s Chief Academic Officer Francie Alexander comments in the report. “While many parents express concern over the amount of time their child spends with technology, nearly half do not have a preference of format for their child’s books. The message is clear – parents want to encourage more reading, no matter the medium.”

With this kind of target market, how long before we see kid-centric Kindles, Nooks and iPads?