The Decline by Nine

Episode 87 · May 28th, 2019 · 25 mins 45 secs

About this Episode

In our biennial Kids & Family Reading Report, we came across some findings that were a bit, well, concerning: At nine years old — usually when a child is in third grade — kids across the board report a significantly reduced interest in reading.

Here are some of the stats:

  • 57% of 8-year-olds said they read books for fun 5 to 7 days a week. But by age 9, that drops to a mere 35%.
  • 40% of 8-year-olds say they love to read. By age 9, only 28% say that.

We find similar decreases in the numbers around access to books (more 6- to 8-year-olds have a classroom library than 9- to 11-year-olds) and the presence of reading role models (more 6- to 8-year-olds say they have people in their lives who enjoy reading than 9- to 11-year-olds). Additionally, nearly half of 9-year-olds say they have trouble finding books they like. 

What's causing the "decline by nine"? And what can we do about it? We talked with education and reading experts to find out.

Additional resources:


  • Lauren Tarshis is the Senior Vice President and Editor-In-Chief/Publisher, Scholastic Classroom Magazines. She is also the author of the New York Times bestselling series I Survived.
  • Michael Haggen is the Chief Academic Officer, Scholastic Education.
  • Jaime Vandergrift is a third grade teacher at Sara Harp Minter Elementary.
  • Kristen Cruikshank is a third grade teacher at Lamar Consolidated ISD.
  • Dr. Donyall Dickey is an author and consultant for Scholastic Literacy.

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mix and recording by Daniel Jordan
  • Edited by Mackenzie Cutruzzula
  • Produced by Emily Morrow