May 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

It’s an Ebook World for Young Readers 13 and Under Says PlayCollective Report


According to the study by PlayCollective and Digital Book World, 92 percent of children under 13 are using their e-readers at least once a week.

The majority of students 13 and under are picking up e-readers to enjoy their favorite books—with 92 percent doing so at least once a week—says the third part of a three-part study “Exploring the E-Reading Habits of Children” released earlier this year.

The report, from the strategy group PlayCollective and the publishing online retailer Digital Book World, found that two-thirds—or 67 percent—of children under-13 are reading digital books compared to just 54 percent in 2013.

“A generation of avid child e-readers is finally among us,” say researchers of the study, who interviewed 899 parents about whether their children read digital books and built the study on the 603 who answered yes.

Ebook adoption has grown throughout libraries, schools, and at home as students gravitate to the digital media and the devices that deliver the digital media.

School libraries are diverting more of their material budgets to ebooks, eager to grow their online collections, and students are increasingly using tablets and readers for schoolwork and assigned reading.

Parents are also eager to have their students fluent in these new media skills, believing they are important to their success in school.

Although focusing primarily on digital reading behavior and tools, the study found that print remains the most popular format that parents choose when reading with their children. Students prefer print as well—at least for now. While researchers noted that parents gravitate to the printed word for a bedtime story or two, their children are leaning towards the digital format, with 40 percent preferring digital books to the 26 percent who prefer print titles.


More than half of the parents participating in the study stated their children ask for ebook versions of the tales they already own in print form.

More than half—or 54 percent—of parents also stated that their children ask for ebook versions of the tales that they already own in print form. Researchers believe this data points to children considering the two versions as different ways to connect with the material—rather seeing it as repetitive material.

“This appears to indicate that children do now view print and ebooks as redundant, but as unique reading and companion experiences,” say researchers from the study.

As expected, tablet ownership has grown along with ebook reading, from 72 percent of families owning these devices and using them as primary digital reading platforms for their children in the fourth quarter of 2012, to 82 percent owning a tablet today. Researchers note that the growth is correlated to parents believing that ebooks increase their children’s literacy skills, their motivation to read, and bring enjoyment.

Still, there is room for improvement, even at such high adoption rates, notes the study. Parents are hungry for more delivery options, particularly subscription service plans and even additional “quality full price ebooks” over free versions or library ebook rentals. Their decisions, however, appears to lean toward whatever direction their children choose, as student demand is apparently driving ebook adoption by parents eager to feed their family’s hunger and interest.

“Finally, although parents are still the primary purchasers, they are more likely than ever to follow their children’s desires in selecting what to read,” says the report.

The full report is available online for $99 at Digital Book World.

Lauren Barack About Lauren Barack

School Library Journal contributing editor Lauren Barack writes about the connection between media and education, business, and technology. A recipient of the Loeb Award for online journalism, she can be found at



  1. Nancy Krebbs says:

    This is quite a headline based on the responses of 603 parents. I serve two high poverty elementary schools.
    Come interview my parents and I bet you will find very different results. Although my district offers Overdrive, I have zero use at both schools.

  2. Deborah MacInnis says:

    I live in greater community of 14,000. Lots of families do not have computers, let alone laptops or tablets.
    Our summer visitors have everything electronic, but their income affords them second homes and at home mothers. Many of our year round families do not have year round living accommodations