Study: Digital Reading Doubled from Fall 2019 to Fall 2020

This year’s edition of the What Kids Are Reading report includes in-depth data and analysis on how students’ reading habits changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic 

Renaissance, a global leader in pre-K–12 education technology, today released its much anticipated What Kids Are Reading report for 2021. The new report, created for educators, administrators, and families, offers research and analysis focused on topics such as reading frequency, reading pattern trends, the impact from COVID-19, and recommendations for personalized instruction, linking insights from the report with Renaissance’s free Focus Skills.

As the largest study of its kind, What Kids Are Reading provides actionable insights and helpful tools to help educators guide their students toward “just-right” reading recommendations. The report features a foreword by Jewell Parker Rhodes, author of Black Brother, Black Brother, and an introduction by James S. Kim, Ed.D., from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. What Kids Are Reading breaks down the reading data from more than seven million K–12 students across the nation into the following categories:

  • Popular book maps for each grade band and state;
  • Popular book lists for each grade level, including popular topics, top print books, top digital books, popular Spanish titles, diversity and inclusion, social and emotional learning, and “New and Now” books;
  • A guide to ensure that educators have the tools to put the new report to use with their students.

“Ultimately, What Kids Are Reading is not just a tool for educators and families, but a celebration of reading,” said Dr. Gene Kerns, vice president and chief academic officer at Renaissance. “This year, one of the more impressive data points we’re celebrating is the sheer amount of reading students accomplished during the pandemic. Students with access to myON, Renaissance’s digital reading platform, more than doubled the amount of time they spent reading in the fall of 2020 compared to the fall of 2019.”

“Our students are reading in their free time in class, at home during hybrid/remote learning, and during library time,” noted Amanda Reese, a 6th-grade teacher at Walnut Grove School in New Market, Alabama. “I have noticed with the use of myON that students are reading so much more on their own than I have seen them read in the past.”

Featuring author essays by Pam Muñoz Ryan, author of Esperanza Rising; Rob Harrell, author of Wink; and Yuyi Morales, author of Dreamers, What Kids Are Reading offers tools for finding reading materials students will love, along with readability information such as ATOS levels, interest levels, and Lexile measures. Spanish and nonfiction indicators help educators quickly and easily identify the right books for their individual students.

The full report is available now at, along with additional tools, including a Custom Report Builder to create custom book lists according to state, grade level, reading level, fiction/nonfiction, English/Spanish, and more.

On March 16, Renaissance will host a webinar that delves into the findings from this year’s report﹘and provides additional insights on independent reading practice this school year.

The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.

Current issue of Equity & Access:

Equity & Access - Issue 28

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