By Gabrielle SolomonsFri. 28 Jun. 20243min Read

75 Reading Statistics: Demographics, Country, Technology and Literacy

Discover important reading trends and statistics, including popular genres, typical reading times, and how digital formats affect reading behavior.
75 Reading Statistics: Demographics, Country, Technology and Literacy
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Gabrielle Solomons
Junior Editor and Content Writer
Gabrielle is a professional junior editor and writer passionate about content creation and writing. With 2 years of experience in marketing and creative writing, she has quickly excelled in editorial and publishing roles. Gabrielle has a unique perspective and understanding of market research and editing. She is a bright and lively individual who loves learning and experiencing new things to upskill and redefine her role. 


Reading is something that everyone can do, and that can help you learn a lot about the world. We can better understand how reading affects and changes our lives by reading facts and figures. We'll talk about why reading statistics is important and give you some surprising reading statistics and facts that you should know.

 

Reading Demographic Statistics

Let's explore the mysteries contained within the numbers! This section examines the intriguing interplay of age, gender, and geography.

  1. Fewer American 9- and 13-year-olds are reading for fun daily compared to a decade ago, with levels now at their lowest since the mid-1980s, according to a survey by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) conducted in late 2019 and early 2020.1

  2. In 2020, 25% of 9-year-olds said they read for fun once or twice a week, 9% did so once or twice a month, and 8% read for fun a few times a year.1

  3. About 23% of 13-year-olds in 2021 said they read for fun once or twice a week, while 16% read for fun once or twice a month, and 15% a few times a year.1

  4. In the 2020 survey of young children, more girls than boys said they enjoyed reading for fun.1

  5. Almost half of 9-year-old girls (46%) reported reading for fun almost every day in 2020, compared to 38% of boys the same age.1

  6. In 2020, two out of ten 13-year-old girls reported reading for fun almost daily, while 14% of 13-year-old boys said they did the same.1

  7. In 2020, 9-year-old Asian American, White, and Hispanic students were more likely to read for fun almost every day compared to their Black peers.1

  8. About four in ten or more Asian (50%), White (44%), and Hispanic (41%) students said this, compared to 35% of Black students in 2020.1

  9. Among 13-year-olds, 28% of Asian and 20% of White students read for fun almost daily. This is higher than the 15% of Black students and 10% of Hispanic students who did the same in 2020.1

  10. Students who scored higher on the 2020 reading tests said they read for fun more often. For instance, half of the 9-year-olds who scored in the top 25% on the 2020 NAEP reading test reported reading for fun almost every day, while only 39% of those in the bottom 25% did so.1


Less American
9- and 13-year-olds have read for pleasure every day for the past ten years, to a degree not seen since the mid-1980s. It's interesting to note that girls like reading more than boys do.

Furthermore, compared to their Black counterparts, Asian American, White, and Hispanic students are more likely to read for pleasure daily. Additionally, pupils who perform well read more often. These patterns demonstrate how region, gender, and age influence reading habits.

  1. In 2004, the average American spent 23 minutes a day reading, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2022, that dropped to just 16 minutes, with a brief increase in 2021 due to Covid.2
  2. However, many non-readers are lowering the average reading time. For Americans 15 and older who read for pleasure, the average reading time per day in 2022 was 1 hour and 34 minutes. This is slightly down from the 2012 peak of 1 hour and 35 minutes but up from 1 hour and 23 minutes in 2004.2
  3. People aged 75 and older were some of the most enthusiastic readers in 2022, spending over 40 minutes a day reading for pleasure.2
  4. Employed Americans read much less, averaging less than 10 minutes of leisure reading on a workday.2
  5. Only 2 in 5 children and teens (43.4%) aged 8 to 18 said they enjoyed reading in their free time in 2023.3
  6. In 2023, 1 in 4 children and young people (26.7%) read poetry at least once a month. Those who read poetry enjoyed reading more than those who didn't (58.5% vs 37.9%).3
  7. In 2023, fewer children and young people on free school meals (39.5%) said they enjoyed reading compared to those who don't receive them (43.8%).4
  8. In 2023, fewer boys (40.5%) than girls (45.3%) said they enjoyed reading.4
  9. In 2023, only 28% of kids and teens aged 8 to 18 read daily, the same as in 2022.4
  10. Fewer children and young people who get free school meals (FSMs) read daily compared to those who don't (24.1% vs. 28.9%).4


The way that people read has changed over time. There is a bright side to the overall decline in reading time: those who read for pleasure are spending more time with books. Remarkably, elderly folks remain voracious readers, particularly those 75 and older.

However, employed Americans appear to choose other pursuits over leisure reading during the workday. Reading enjoyment differs between kids and teenagers. Some people enjoy poetry, yet others are left out. Socioeconomic position and gender are two factors that affect how frequently people pick up a book.

  1. More girls than boys aged 8 to 18 read daily (30.4% vs 24.9%). Among boys on FSMs, 21.5% read daily, compared to 31.1% of girls not on FSMs. Daily reading for boys went up and for girls went down between 2022 and 2023, regardless of FSM status.4
  2. Among kids aged 8 to 18, half (52.9%) said their parents encouraged them to read. Three out of five (58.4%) had seen their parents read, and one in five (19.9%) read with their family.4
  3. In reading, 73% of students met the expected standard, down from 75% in 2022.5
  4. In 2023, girls showed the most improvement in reading (score: 0.29) and writing (score: 0.87) but made less progress in math (score: -0.77).5
  5. In contrast, boys showed less progress in reading (score: -0.21) and writing (score: -0.76) but made the most progress in math (score: 0.82).5
  6. In 2022, American and British readers were heavy book consumers, with 39% and 44% reading more than 20 books, respectively. In contrast, only 23% of Canadians read more than 20 books.9
  7. Across all generations, 61% of readers prefer non-fiction over fiction.16

Data shows fascinating reading habits across groups. Reading for enjoyment has declined among American kids, especially 9-—and 13-year-olds. This tendency is alarming because reading is crucial to cognitive growth and academic performance.

Girls typically read more for fun than boys, demonstrating gender differences in reading habits. Asian American, White, and Hispanic pupils are more likely than Black kids to read for fun daily.

The data also shows how socioeconomic status affects reading. Free school food recipients read less and enjoyed it less. Despite the fall in reading time, leisure readers, especially the elderly, are reading more.

However, employed Americans read less, suggesting work may prevent leisure reading. Students who performed higher on reading tests also read for fun more often, showing a link between reading for pleasure and academic success.

Reading Statistics by Country

Look at this section to see how people in different parts of the world read. Look at the numbers to learn about reading habits and learning rates worldwide.

  1. India reads for about 10 hours and 42 minutes a week, which puts them at the top of the list. This is the same as $556.8 annually (2017–2022).6
  2. Thailand comes in at number two, with a reading rate of 9 hours and 24 minutes per week. This comes to about $488.8 a year (2017–2022).6
  3. Third place goes to China, which reads 8 hours a week, or 416 hours a year (2017–2022).6
  4. People in the Philippines read for 7 hours and 36 minutes every week. This is the same as $395.20 a year. (2017–2022).6
  5. Egypt comes in at number five. People there read for 7 hours and 30 minutes a week, or 300 minutes a year.6
  6. The countries with the most book readers in 2024 are Serbia and Poland. In Serbia, 48% of people said they read books, while in Poland, it's 47%.8
  7. Americans read 25% more than they did in 2020. People aged 20 to 34 now spend an average of 6.6 minutes reading daily.16
  8. Despite some Americans reading more books, 23% didn't read a single book in 2020. Additionally, 29% of rural Americans have never read a book.16
  9. Europeans are the world's top readers, spending at least an hour daily with a book.16
  10. Finland, Poland, and Estonia have the highest number of readers in Europe. In Finland, 16.8% of people say reading is their favorite pastime.16

Globally, reading habits vary significantly, with India leading in weekly reading time, closely followed by Thailand and China. In Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Egypt also show strong reading cultures.

Countries like Serbia and Poland have high percentages of book readers in Europe, while Finland, Poland, and Estonia boast the highest number of readers on the continent.

Interestingly, in the United States, reading habits have increased since 2020, particularly among young adults, though a significant portion of the population still does not engage in reading. Overall, Europeans maintain the highest daily reading times globally, highlighting regional differences in how people engage with literature.

  1. Koreans spend a lot on books. 12% of Koreans have made personal development a New Year's resolution and plan to use books as their main way to learn.16
  2. Reading is seen as a leisure activity in African households, with 7 out of 10 adults saying they read for fun.16
  3. In Africa, reading ranks as the fifth most popular leisure activity.16
  4. Although many Africans enjoy reading as a leisure activity, it's surprising that over 16 million South Africans don't own a book, which is nearly 58% of the population.16
  5. In South Africa, only 14% of the population reads books. However, 25% of adults read regularly.16
  6. In South Africa, 16 million people, or about 58%, don't own any books. On the other hand, 42% of households have at least one book, and 7% of the population owns more than ten books.16
  7. East Asia and the Pacific boast the world's highest literacy rate at 95.7%, while sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest at 65.47%.16
  8. Africa's literacy rate is still low. One in three adults can't read, and 48 million people aged 15-24 are illiterate.16

Globally, reading habits show significant diversity. India has the highest weekly reading time, followed by Thailand and China, which demonstrate strong Asian reading cultures. In Europe, countries like Serbia, Poland, and Finland have high percentages of avid readers, with Europeans generally spending the most time reading daily.

In the United States, young adults have increased their reading time since 2020, yet a substantial portion of the population remains disengaged from reading. In Africa, reading is a popular leisure activity despite low overall literacy rates and significant disparities in book ownership. Overall, these patterns reflect varied regional engagements with literature and literacy.

Reading and Technology Statistics

Reading and technology statistics offer valuable insights into how people engage with literature and digital devices. By examining data on reading habits, digital consumption, and the impact of technology on literacy, we can better understand trends and make informed decisions.

These statistics help highlight the evolving relationship between traditional reading and modern technology, shaping the future of education and information access.

  1. 24% of students on free school meals read fiction online, while only 16% of their peers who are not on free school meals do.10
  2. Young people with high critical digital literacy are nearly three times more likely to have high mental well-being than those with low critical digital literacy (30.2% vs 11.6%).10
  3. Three out of five young people (62.5%) who play video games write about them at least once a month.10
  4. Over half (54%) of young people say they find more reading material that matches their interests online. Additionally, about 3 in 5 (59%) are inspired to read more widely due to their online activities.11
  5. Even though about 20% of young people write fiction outside of school, only 29% feel confident sharing their writing online.11
  6. Most young people (67%) feel confident in verifying online information. However, while 59% say they wouldn’t share a news story unless they're sure it's true, only 50% take the time to check the news's accuracy.11
  7. 71% of young people with high literacy engagement take time to evaluate news stories, compared to 41% of those with low literacy engagement.11
  8. Young people with high critical digital literacy were almost three times more likely to have high mental well-being than those with low critical digital literacy (30.2% vs 11.6%).11
  9. Four out of five (79.4%) young gamers read about video games at least once a month. This includes in-game communications (39.9%), reviews and blogs (30.5%), books (21.8%), and fan fiction (19.4%).12
  10. One in three young people (35.3%) think playing video games helps them become better readers.12

The statistics reveal a disparity in online fiction reading between students on free school meals and their peers. High critical digital literacy is linked to better mental well-being. Online activities inspire many young people to read more, though confidence in sharing their writing online is low.

Many feel confident verifying information, but only half check news accuracy. High literacy engagement leads to more careful news evaluation. Young gamers often read about games and believe it improves their reading skills. This highlights the complex relationship between technology, reading habits, and literacy skills.

  1. Nearly three out of four (73.1%) young people who don't enjoy reading say playing video games makes them feel more connected to a story than reading a book.12
  2. Teenagers are less likely to say they enjoy reading or reading daily in their free time compared to younger kids. While 71.9% of kids aged 9 to 11 enjoy reading, only 49.5% of those aged 11 to 14 do.13
  3. Boys' enjoyment of reading drops as they get older: in 2019, 64.5% of boys aged 8 to 11 enjoyed reading, but this fell to 44.3% for boys aged 11 to 14 and just 32.0% for boys aged 14 to 16.13
  4. Over one-third (34.3%) of young people think reading on a screen is cooler than reading a book. This rises to nearly half (49.9%) among boys who don't like reading.13
  5. Boys eligible for FSMs are less likely to own a book at home than those not eligible (67.1% vs. 77.5%). However, there is no significant difference between the two groups in terms of access to smartphones (92.4% vs. 92.3%), tablets (74.7% vs. 76.4%), or laptops (74.7% vs. 82.6%).13
  6. Additionally, boys eligible for free school meals are more likely to prefer reading on screens than those not. This is true both at school (36.6% vs. 26.3%) and at home (56.0% vs. 45.6%).13
  7. Surveys found that 91.9% believed technology could benefit reluctant boy readers, and 78.4% felt it would help less able boys.13
  8. Many teachers (58.4%) reported that lack of hardware, software, and Wi-Fi are the main barriers to using technology for literacy in the classroom. Additionally, nearly a quarter (23.3%) of survey respondents said they received no initial or ongoing training in using technology for literacy learning.13

The data highlights that students who are on free school meals read more online fiction and high critical digital literacy is linked to better mental wellbeing. Many young people find engaging reading material online but lack confidence in sharing their writing.

Most are confident in verifying information, though only half check news accuracy. Young gamers often read about games, believing it improves their reading skills. These trends show how technology is reshaping literacy and reading habits among young people.

 

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Literacy Statistics

Literacy statistics clearly show a population's reading and writing skills. They highlight the percentage of people who can read and write at various proficiency levels, revealing crucial information about education quality, access to learning resources, and overall societal development. Understanding these statistics helps identify areas needing improvement and formulate effective educational policies.

  1. In 2023, 1 in 3 (34.6%) children and young people aged 8 to 18 said they enjoy writing in their free time. Writing enjoyment has dropped by 12.2 percentage points over the past 13-14 years.3
  2. In grammar, punctuation, and spelling, 72% of students met the expected standard, the same as in 2022.5
  3. In reading, writing, and math combined, 60% of students met the expected standard, up from 59% in 2022. At the higher standard, 8% met it, up from 7% in 2022.5
  4. 86.3% of people aged 15 and up can read and write. Men 15 and older have a rate of 90%, while women's rate is slightly lower at 82.7%.7
  5. The adult literacy rate in developed countries is typically 96% or higher.7
  6. In comparison, the least developed countries have an average literacy rate of just 65%.7
  7. Approximately 781 million adults around the world cannot read or write, and nearly two-thirds of them are women.7,14
  8. In many countries, over 95% of people can read and write. This high level of literacy is a modern achievement.15
  9. In some sub-Saharan African countries, less than one-third of adults over 15 can read and write.15
  10. In 2021, the global literacy rate was 86%, with women having higher illiteracy rates compared to men.16

Recent literacy statistics show that while most students meet expected standards in grammar and math, enjoyment of writing among young people has significantly declined.

Developed countries boast high adult literacy rates, but less developed regions, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, still struggle with low literacy. Women face higher illiteracy rates globally, emphasizing the need for targeted education efforts.

  1. Literacy rates in first-world countries are rising, with nations like Luxembourg, Andorra, and Norway achieving 100% literacy.16
  2. It's encouraging that adult literacy rates rise yearly, even if only slightly. However, literacy levels in sub-Saharan Africa and other low-income countries remain significantly below the global average of 86%.16

Recent literacy statistics indicate that while most students meet expected standards in grammar and math, there is a concerning decline in the enjoyment of writing among young people. Developed countries enjoy high adult literacy rates, but many less developed regions, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, need more literacy levels.

Women globally face higher rates of illiteracy, underscoring the necessity for focused educational initiatives. Despite these challenges, there is a slight but encouraging annual increase in global adult literacy rates.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is reading comprehension? 

  • Reading comprehension is the ability to understand and connect with what you read. It involves more than just decoding words; it’s about making meaning from the text, analyzing it, and internalizing the information.

What do good readers do? 

  • Good readers are purposeful and active. They draw on prior knowledge, make inferences, pay attention to sentence structure, and self-monitor their understanding as they read. They create a mental model of the text, allowing them to absorb and analyze the content effectively.

How can teachers help students develop comprehension skills? 

  • Teachers play a critical role in fostering comprehension skills. They can provide instruction that helps students understand and remember what they read. Additionally, teachers can guide students in communicating their understanding verbally and in writing.

What are some strategies for improving reading comprehension?

  • Draw on prior knowledge: Relate your reading to your experiences and background knowledge.
  • Make inferences: Go beyond the text's literal meaning and consider hidden meanings, character motivations, and plot developments.
  • Pay attention to sentences and cohesion: Understand how individual words affect the overall meaning of a sentence or passage.
  • Self-monitor: Adjust your reading speed based on the text’s difficulty and address comprehension challenges as they arise.

Are there any resources for parents and families to support reading comprehension? 

  • You can explore articles, tips, videos, and research briefs on helping children strengthen their reading comprehension and critical thinking skills.

Sources 

  1. Pew Research
  2. Statista
  3. Literacy Trust
  4. Literacy Trust
  5. Education U.K
  6. World Population Review
  7. World Population Review
  8. Statista
  9. THGM Writers
  10. Literacy Trust
  11. Literacy Trust
  12. Literacy Trust
  13. Literacy Trust
  14. UNESCO
  15. Our World in Data
  16. Gee Editing
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