Although the COVID-19 pandemic has left a negative impact on the American collective consciousness, families — and children in particular — have seen some unexpected benefits from this extended stay at home.
A study on children’s reading habits from digital reading platform Epic revealed that the total average monthly reading time for children under 12 shot up by 89% between 2019 and 2020.
Children's reading habits change amid COVID-19 pandemic
According to Epic's report, 86% of parents said that their children read at least once a week. However, the average reader on the platform went above and beyond, reading more than the recommended amount of 20 minutes a day for two to three times a week on average.
The platform also found that children spent the least amount of time reading in January and February, before cities across the nation issued stay-at-home orders. In contrast, children read the most in June and July 2020 — historically a time when children spend the least amount of time reading.
Taken together, these findings suggest that the nationwide lockdowns and other aspects of the coronavirus pandemic contributed greatly to this increase in reading among children.
Over 6 in 10 parents (62%) also believe that their children used books to cope with the changes taking place in the world around them — an observation supported by the 10 most popular search terms on Epic's platform last year. These search terms included:
Notably, the word "family" ranked highly while "strange" and "friendship" made their debut on this list in 2020. This speaks to the various lifestyle changes children experienced during this time, including time spent away from their friends and loved ones.
Reading leaves positive impact on children and their families
A different survey from Bright Horizons found that many parents worried about their children's mental load and mental health during the pandemic. But with so many also taking on additional duties at home during this time, parents turned to the solutions available to them. Consequently, 84% of parents gave their children more screen time last year.
A significant amount of that time may have been spent on Epic's platform, as the company noted that over half — 605 million — of the 1 billion books read over the last year was read on a phone or tablet.
This was time well-spent for families, as 69% of parents reported that their children were happier after reading — which may be partly due to the fact that humor was the most popular book genre of the year. A majority of parents also said that reading brought out more of the following qualities in their children:
- Willingness to try new things
Additionally, reading encouraged children to engage with their family more so than other activities. Epic found that 82% of parents said their children were excited to talk about what they read, while only 70% of kids wanted to do so after playing a game or watching a TV or movie.
Overall, almost half (45%) of parents said that reading had the greatest positive impact on their children, with time outdoors coming in at a distant second place (15%). Reading was one of children's most preferred activities as well, coming in second only to watching TV.
*Methodology: Epic and global research firm Morning Consult conducted an online poll of 1,000 American parents with children ages 5-12 between March 15-23, 2021, weighting the data based on each child's gender, age and region.
Epic combined the results from this survey with anonymized, aggregated data of children's reading trends and usage on their platform.*