Study of Student Reading Habits Reveals Critical Gaps, Key Strategies for Growth

Renaissance® today marked National Reading Day with the release of its 2019 edition of its annual What Kids Are Reading report. For the first time, the study includes book difficulty data from MetaMetrics®.

This year’s report finds that literacy advocates have their work cut out for them: Nearly half of students read less than 15 minutes per day, while research shows that double that time—30 minutes or more—is linked with accelerated reading achievement gains. However, reading time isn’t consistent across all grades. It peaks in elementary school, then begins to decline after fifth grade and never recovers. In high school, the typical student is reading no more than 10 minutes per day.

To help educators and families encourage students to read, the report offers information about the most popular books for each grade, cross-curricular lists on topics such as science and social-emotional learning, and tips on how to help students maximize the effects of the time they do spend reading. Reflecting students’ growing access to digital texts, the report also highlights some of students’ favorite digital reads in each grade. New to this year’s report, a Lexile® text complexity measure is included with each title, in addition to an ATOS® reading level, to help educators find texts at the “just-right” reading level for each of their students.

The full report is available free of charge at, along with additional tools including a Custom Report Builder tool that uses filters such as state, grade, difficulty level, and more.