What Kids Are Reading 2019 – The Big Launch!

By Chris Jarosh

What Kids Are Reading 2019

Now in its eleventh year, our annual What Kids Are Reading report is the product of weeks of data gathering, analysis, design work, proofreading, and proofreading again – so when the final 96-page report lands on our desks, we think it’s worth making a big deal out of!

The Renaissance What Kids Are Reading report is released annually and uses Accelerated Reader and Star Reading data to look at the book-reading habits of children across the UK and Ireland for the previous academic year. It’s independently authored by Professor Keith Topping of the University of Dundee.

You can download the report here.


Getting it all together

This year, our report was the biggest it’s ever been! We took the data from 4,914 schools and, for the very first time, over one million children. These 1,057,720 children read 20,674,121 books between them! (A total of 251,754,013,327, i.e. 251 billion, words – if you’re counting.)

Schools, children, books, words

The report looks at what children from Year 1 to Year 11 (or non-English equivalents) read most often, as well as what they voted for as their favourite books. This year, we added a new section on how kids are reading, which looked at statistics like Average Percent Correct and Estimated Engaged Reading Time, and their impact.

So, what were kids reading?

One thing is a certainty every year – and that’s finding Jeff Kinney at the top of our most-read books list! Readers of all ages can’t get enough of his enormously-popular Wimpy Kid series. It’s also pretty inevitable that David Walliams was a name that appeared very frequently, as well as Roderick Hunt, Francesca Simon and Julia Donaldson for younger readers, and Roald Dahl and (a new entry for this year) R. J. Palacio for slightly older readers.

Jeff Kinney, David Walliams, Roderick Hunt, Francesca Simon, Julia Donaldson, Roald Dahl, R. J. PalacioBut, of course, there were a few anomalies – it was great to see Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda on the list of favourite books in secondary schools, no doubt popularised by the film adaption ‘Love, Simon’ which came out in April 2018. There are also appearances from Sarah J. Maas, Ernest Cline, Alex Bell, Nicola Yoon, and loads more. You can, of course, download the report for the full lowdown!



Launch day

At Renaissance, we love a celebration – and the What Kids Are Reading report is certainly cause for one! We invited authors, publishers, teachers and supporters to our launch event in central London.Guests celebrate at our 2019 What Kids Are Reading event

Acclaimed children’s author Piers Torday graciously accepted our invitation to host the event, and he chaired a panel discussion with four more special guests: Francesca Simon, whose Horrid Henry books are a household name; Matt Oldfield, author of the popular Football Heroes series, Chelsea Sandbrook, an Assistant Headteacher at a Lincoln junior school, and Heidi Baillieu, an AR Administrator in a primary school.A panel of children's authors discuss how to help children who are struggling readers

Their discussion of how to help struggling readers left our audience enthralled, and we’ll be sharing some videos of their conversations on our Facebook and Twitter pages soon.


Our Quiz Writers’ favourites

Our quiz writing team read and wrote quizzes on a whopping 1,962 books in 2017/18! As the experts in children’s books at Renaissance, every year we let them choose their favourite books – ones that weren’t necessarily at the top of the most-read lists, but that they thought deserved to be recognised. And the winners were…

Primary fiction: I Am Bear by Ben Bailey Smith and Sav Akyüz

Secondary fiction: Kick by Mitch Johnson

Primary non-fiction: Rounds series by Emma Tranter

Secondary non-fiction: Ultimate Football Heroes series by Matt and Ben Oldfield

The four winning children's authors at our What Kids Are Reading awards

You can click here to read the books that our quiz writers shortlisted for this award – it’s a great starting point for library-book-shopping (if your shelves aren’t already too full of Greg Heffley and Harry Potter).

We also present a Outstanding Achievement award every year to recognise the contribution an author has made to children’s literature and encouraging children to read for pleasure. This year, we were very happy to present this award to Francesca Simon!


But it doesn’t end here…

What Kids Are ReadingOur What Kids Are Reading report is more than just a discussion of data. It’s a 96-page celebration of reading and the importance of it, and within it you’ll also find reflective pieces by a selection of well-loved children’s authors, wise words from Piers Torday, and testimonies from some of our top-performing schools. We might be biased, but we think it’s definitely worth a look – and it’s free to download, so what have you got to lose? Click here to download and read the PDF.


We are so thankful to each and every author and illustrator whose work encourages children to read. Your work is so vital to the learning growth of the next generation, and we feel very honoured to be able to work with so many of you!

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