Released: May 1, 2013

Parents, Children, Libraries, and Reading

Part 2: Parents and Reading

By , , and

Parents of minor children do not necessarily read more than adults who do not currently have minor children (“other adults”), but they are heavier consumers of audio books and e-books. Sixteen percent of parents have read more than 20 books in the past year and an additional 13% have read 11-20 books while two in ten parents (22%) report no reading in the past 12 months.  Parents who read books, read an average (mean) of 16 books per year and a median (mid-point) of 8 books per year.

Among parents, fathers are less likely than mothers to have read a book in the past year. About three in ten (29%) fathers say they have not read any books in the past year, compared with 16% of mothers who are not readers. However, among those who do read, mothers and fathers read about the same number of books per year; an average of 14 books per year for fathers and an average of 17 per year for mothers.

Parents who live in households earning less than $50,000 in annual income are less likely to be readers than those with higher income; 27% in that income bracket have not read any books in the past year, compared with 16% of higher income parents. A similar pattern is seen with college education; 38% of those with no college education are non-readers, compared with 12% of those with at least some college education.  However, among readers, there is no significant difference in the average number of books read in the past year for parents with different levels of income (16 vs. 15) or education (17 vs. 15).

Reading frequency

Differences between parents of minor children and other adults (those with children 18 or older or with no children) emerge when looking at the type of reading that is done.  Other adults are more likely than parents to read print books (91% vs. 86%) – due in large part to age and educational differences between the two — but parents who are book readers consume a greater variety of book formats than other adults.  Roughly four in ten (38%) parents have read an e-book and a quarter (24%) have listened to an audio book in the past year, compared with 27% and 14% of other adults, respectively. Among parents, those with children under 12 are more likely than those with only 12-17 year-olds to have listened to an audio book in the past 12 months (26% vs. 17%).  Other than this difference, reports of listening to audio books or reading e-books are similar across all types of parents.

09 type of books read