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Kids vs adults: Who reads more books?

Sofia Tomacruz
Kids vs adults: Who reads more books?
9 out of 10 Filipino kids spend over 13 hours per month reading 'non-school' books, says a National Book Development Board 2017 readership survey

MANILA, Philippines – Who are the more avid book readers? Children or adults? The 2017 National Book Development Board (NBDB) readership survey said it’s the kids who take this point.

Results from the NBDB readership survey showed 93% of respondents aged 6 to 17 years old spent an average of 13.7 hours reading “non-school books” per month, compared to about 80% adult respondents 18 years old and above. “Non-school books” were considered all books other than textbooks, which were either in printed, audio, or e-book format.

Dr Dennis Mapa, Dean of the School of Statistics, University of the Philippines who conducted the survey commissioned by the NBDB, said the finding was especially true in urban areas where children had access to technology. 

Mas madaling ma-access ‘yung mga bata doon sa mga books on the net or reading materials on the net in particular. In fact, may mga child respondents kami na talagang sinasabi na doon na sila nag-search ng materials kasi ‘yung mga “non-school books” ay printed form, e-book form, and audio,” Mapa said at a forum on the survey’s results Friday, September 28.

(Children easily access books on the Internet or reading materials on the Internet in particular. In fact, we had child respondents who said this was really where they searched for materials since “non-school books” were either printed, (in) e-book form, and audio.)

Part of this, Mapa said, was the fact that technology plays a big role in the lives of youth. “(The) technology aspect is playing a role here…. children now are born with a gadget in their hand,” he said.

Marpa added this was expected, though, as access to materials was “generally expected to get better” by generations. The survey also found that parents and teachers were among those who encouraged children to read the most.

What else do Filipinos read? Next to “non-school books,” 69.3% of adult respondent said they read the news either printed or digitally, while 37% of children read online articles. The survey did not specify what type of online articles these may be.

Meanwhile, magazines were the 3rd most read reading material for respondents with 47.7% of adults and 26% children saying they read either printed or digital magazines.

Love of learning: If you asked Filipinos why they read, majority would answer they did so to learn more things or “expand their current knowledge.” This was the case for 43.83% of adult respondents and 40.98% of child respondents.

After this, 20.26% of adults said they read to keep up with current events, followed by 19.49% who read for leisure, and 15.66% to improve their vocabulary, comprehension, and grammar.

For children, reading to learn was followed by 27.37% who said they read to improve their reading ability, comprehension, and vocabulary. This was followed by those who read for leisure at 22.5% and the last, with those who read to keep up with current events at 8.73%.

Overall, however, the NBDB said majority of Filipinos enjoyed reading. The survey found such was the case for 96% of youth and 94% of adult respondents.

The NBDB readership survey was conducted May to June 2018 and covered a total of 2,400 respondents nationwide, except for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. –

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at