Books vs. Screens: The Battle for the Future of Middle-Grade Reading

Explore why fewer children are reading for fun and how the 'Decline by 9' is shaping future readers. Discover the factors influencing this trend and the industry's response.

Books vs. Screens: The Battle for the Future of Middle-Grade Reading

As a devoted reader from a young age, instilling a love of reading in my children ranks among my highest priorities. My seven-year-old is already enamored with books—a passion I am keen to preserve as she approaches a critical juncture in her literary journey. Dan Kois’s article, "Not Lost in a Book," casts a discerning eye on the alarming trend of waning interest in reading among middle-grade children, a shift intensified by the pandemic and an ever-increasing digital encroachment. Despite a resurgence in overall book sales in the post-pandemic era, this particular demographic, so essential to nurturing lifelong readers, has seen a stark decline in reading for pleasure, termed the "Decline by 9."

If you can keep them interested in books at that age, it will foster an interest in books the rest of their life.

This downturn is influenced by a spectrum of factors, from the evolving methodologies in reading instruction to the pervasive influence of digital technologies and the challenges inherent in marketing to this age group without the direct channels provided by platforms like TikTok. Yet, the consensus among industry professionals remains cautiously optimistic: there is still room for literature that can captivate these young minds, potentially offsetting the digital allure and re-sparking their joy for reading.

The Real Reading Crisis Involves the Kids Who Don’t Have Phones
It’s not the pandemic. It’s not (only) the Devices. So what causes the “decline by 9”?