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reading and literacy

World’s largest K-12 reading survey identifies trends, highlights best practices

Reading survey reveals Struggling students who take part in high-quality reading practice can surge ahead of their peers whose reading practice remains static.

Tapping into data collected from nearly 10 million K-12 students who read 346 million books and nonfiction articles last school year, Renaissance® releases its ninth annual What Kids Are Reading report. Researchers at the K-12 learning analytics company produce the report, which provides the comprehensive review of students’ reading habits and achievement. What Kids Are Reading: And How They Grow, 2017 includes most read fiction and nonfiction books by grade level, nonfiction selections by gender, and a sampling of popular reading across the curriculum. The report is an important annual reflection on reading trends in U.S. schools.

By analyzing the data and reading habits from Renaissance’s Accelerated Reader 360® platform, researchers compiled national and state reading trends, reading habits by age and gender, and best practices for student growth.

“What Kids Are Reading offers important and unique insight into K-12 reading as we continuously seek to better understand how students read and grow as learners,” said Eric Stickney, director of educational research at Renaissance. “Each year, we discover key insights about our student readers, such as the difference dedicated reading practice can mean to a student previously thought to be constrained by the label of ‘struggling reader’.”

Key findings from the 2017 report:

• Girls continue to outpace boys by 23 percent in total words read.

• Increasing daily reading to 30 minutes over the course of a student’s schooling can mean a difference in exposure to 8 million more words than students who read only 15 minutes per day.

• Struggling students who take part in high-quality reading practice—meaning daily reading with high comprehension and significant vocabulary exposure—can surge ahead of their peers whose reading practice remains static.

• While reading staples like Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss continue to be commonly read by students, relative newcomers such as Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has become remarkably popular, ranking in the top 10 lists of students in grades 4-8 for several consecutive years. In addition, The Hunger Games continues as one of the top five most read books by high schoolers.

“Education is undergoing a transformation across the country, and becoming increasingly student-centered. With this report, Renaissance reaffirms its dedication to finding the best ways to not just educate each student, but to inspire them to become life-long readers and learners,” said Jack Lynch, chief executive officer at Renaissance. “The report identifies students’ interests and reading habits, helping to inform instruction with the ultimate goal of helping teachers propel students toward college and career readiness.”

To download the full report, please visit


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