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Mark Dolliver's Takes: Reading for Fun?

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Reading for fun? Huh?

While Harry Potter has made reading for pleasure a respectable activity for boys, a gender gap remains in enthusiasm for books unconnected to school work. The chart here, excerpting a Weekly Reader Research survey, shows how the disparity widens as kids move into their teen years. It's wider still if you focus on the number of kids who rated reading for fun a 10 on the scale of 1 to 10. Among 6-9-year-olds, 37 percent of girls and 27 percent of boys gave reading this score. In the 13-18 age bracket, 34 percent of girls gave reading the top rating, vs. 9 percent of boys. Boys seem to get their fill of narrative from movies: 21 percent of them claimed to go to the movies at least twice a week during the summer, while just 8 percent of girls said the same.

Those modern musical youths

Like adults, kids haven't yet outgrown movies and music in physical format (e.g., DVD and CD). Nonetheless, a report from The NPD Group finds that more than 10 percent of kids age 7 and older download music or video content. Among kids age 6-12, about 30 percent use a portable digital music player. These youthful adopters "not only listen to music an average of five hours per week, but they also purchase an average of three songs per week."