January 25, 2018

World’s largest study of K–12 reading habits analyzes most popular titles, reading data over past 10 years

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (Jan. 25, 2018) – Today Renaissance®, the leader in pre-K–12 learning analytics, celebrates the release of the 10th anniversary edition of What Kids Are Reading. Each year, the report offers an important reflection on reading trends in U.S. schools.

What Kids Are Reading: 10th Anniversary Edition includes most-read fiction and nonfiction titles by grade level, using data from 9.4 million K–12 students who read 323 million books and articles during the 2016–2017 school year. The report also features a list of number-one books for the past 10 years for grades 1–12, offering deeper insights into the variation in difficulty and interest level of top titles during this period.

Researchers at Renaissance produce the report by analyzing the data and reading habits from the Renaissance Accelerated Reader® platform. What Kids Are Reading delivers a snapshot of the most popular reads in each state and nationally, as well as reading achievement and improvement scores by grade. This year, the report also includes a list of students’ highest-rated book picks in each grade as well as top educator picks for different age groups.

“Over the past decade, What Kids Are Reading has played a significant role in providing educators and parents with essential information about students’ reading habits,” says Eric Stickney, director of educational research at Renaissance. “For instance, we understand how the characteristics of reading practice differ for struggling readers who close achievement gaps versus those who do not, and how reading practice impacts vocabulary exposure.”

Key findings from the 2018 report:

  • Struggling readers who dedicated at least 15 minutes per day to reading practice were able to reduce the achievement gap. Struggling readers who read for 30 minutes or more grew even more, increasing by an average of 15 percentile points during the year.

  • Over the last 10 years, the typical student’s reading journey was likely to begin with iconic Dr. Seuss books in first grade, progress to the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by third grade, advance to The Hunger Games in middle school, and top off with Shakespeare in high school.

  • Students’ nonfiction reading peaks around grades 4 and 5. According to Renaissance’s data, nonfiction reading has grown about 10 percent or less nationwide since the school year prior to the National Governors Association’s release of new, challenging academic standards in 2010, which stressed the importance of reading varied texts.

  • In 2018, Green Eggs and Ham is still a favorite among K–2 students; Diary of a Wimpy Kid books remain quite popular in grades 3–6; The Giver and The Outsiders take the two top spots in grades 7–8; and literary classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Crucible, and Of Mice and Men are among the most-read titles in high school.

To download the full report and view top books by state and grade, please visit: https://www.renaissance.com/wkar.

About Renaissance

Renaissance® is the leader in pre-K–12 learning analytics—enabling teachers, curriculum creators, and educators to drive phenomenal student growth. Renaissance’s solutions help educators analyze, customize, and plan personalized learning paths for students, allowing time for what matters—creating energizing learning experiences in the classroom. Founded by parents, upheld by educators, and enriched by data scientists, Renaissance knows learning is a continual journey—from year to year and for a lifetime. Our data-driven, personalized solutions are currently used in over one-third of U.S. schools and more than 70 countries around the world. For more information, visit www.renaissance.com.

Contact for Media Inquiries Only:

Katie Waite
[email protected]

Share this post