Help Kids Find Stories and Avoid a Reading “Decline by Nine”

At the library, we hear from many parents and caregivers seeking early literacy resources and activities to help teach their babies, toddlers, and young children important language and reading skills. Through programs like storytimes, librarians actively work with caregivers to model strategies and activities that support at-home reading, writing, and language experiences and encourage school readiness.

Once a child enters elementary school, the work isn’t over. In fact, attention to building literacy skills becomes even more important as kids approach third grade.

Third grade is considered by educators to be a crucial milestone in a student’s reading development. Through third grade, children are learning to read; after third grade, students are reading to learn.

The Kids and Family Reading Report, released earlier this year by Scholastic, highlights the results of a biennial national survey of children and parents reading habits and attitudes toward reading and books.

Through third grade, children are learning to read; after third grade, children are reading to learn.

The report’s findings show a large drop in reading – and enjoyment of reading – between ages 8 and 9. This, at a time when reading development is crucial to future learning. The report states that the percentage of kids defined as “frequent readers” (reading books for fun 5-7 days a week) dropped from 57% among 8-year-olds to 35% among 9-year-olds.

Since reading frequency and a child’s attitude toward reading for fun are both predictors of reading success, this “decline by nine” is striking.

So, how do we help kids keep their connection to books and reading?

Help kids find stories that spark their interests.

The Scholastic report shows that children want books that make them laugh, help them explore new worlds, and become familiar with new topics. Kids don’t want to settle for just any old story. Visit the library and talk with a librarian about different stories and book series.

Librarians can help your child find books and series based on their individual interests and favorite genres.

Let kids choose their own books.

After getting great book recommendations, it’s important that kids choose the books they want to read, in whatever format they want to read it in. When kids choose the book, they read the book! Even if you’re not a fan of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, if your child likes it, they will read.

Be a reading role model.

When children see the adults and family members in their life reading, they are more likely to read. Show your kids that you value reading and build a strong culture of literacy in your home. And, it doesn’t take much time…

Set aside 15-20 minutes each day to read (outside of school).

That’s all it takes to promote a love of reading in children and continue to develop strong reading skills. Reading frequency (and consistency) is what you’re after – there is a strong relationship between volume of reading (time, pages, etc.) and achievement.

Set aside about 20 minutes every day to reconnect with books and stories.

Surround children with books.

Access to books and other reading materials is important! But, you don’t need to own a huge home library to fill your child’s space with books. The public library is the free go-to resource for reading and listening materials that can be continually replenished and which satisfy your child’s ever-changing interests. Did you know that your library card allows you to check out 100 items at a time? And, there aren’t any fees for late returns of children’s and teen materials.

Encourage your child to choose which books to read. Even better: get them their own library card to use to borrow books from the library.

Sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge.

Reading is fun during the Library’s summer reading program, especially because we encourage children to choose their own books and share what they’re reading with family. Plus, we have some pretty great reading milestone prizes to encourage lots of time spent reading. This year’s program is A Universe of Stories and features space-themed activities and learning fun for all ages, all summer long. Sign up for all ages begins May 28.

There’s a Universe of Stories out there to discover. Sign up for Summer Reading at and get started exploring