Literacy Support

K–12 Reading Survey Findings Released in Renaissance's Annual What Kids Are Reading Report

Renaissance, a global provider of preK–12 assessment, reading, and math solutions, this week released the 2022 What Kids Are Reading report, dubbed the world’s largest annual survey of K–12 reading habits.

Each year, Renaissance’s WKAR report lists the most popular books at every grade level, shedding light on K–12 students’ current reading habits. The report draws from two Renaissance programs: Accelerated Reader, which counts the books students are actually reading, not just buying or checking out from libraries, and myON, which provides students with instant access to thousands of digital titles for online or offline reading.

The 2022 WKAR report uses the data of 4.5 million students in 22,749 U.S. schools who have read 128 million books, revealing insights into students’ reading comprehension and the characteristics of what they choose to read, such as word count and text difficulty.

“Beyond sharing data on student reading, the report’s goal has always been to celebrate books and to encourage students to read for pleasure, both in and out of school,” said Gene Kerns, chief academic officer at Renaissance. “We know from prior research that the amount of reading that students do is a strong predictor of how much they’ll grow and achieve, and the likelihood they’ll be able to understand more complex texts later in school and in their careers.”

The latest WKAR report includes author essays about the value and power of literature to engage students and support vocabulary and knowledge development; featured authors are Jacqueline Woodson (“The Day You Begin”), Yangsook Choi (“The Name Jar”), Francisco X. Stork (“Marcelo in the Real World”), and Padma Venkatraman (“A Time to Dance”).

Kymyona Burk, a senior policy fellow for early literacy at the Foundation for Excellence in Education, wrote in the introduction to the report, “As children grow as readers and as individuals, it is important for them to find engaging books that they can connect with and that motivate them to read. Sometimes, it only takes one character, one book, or one shared experience to change the trajectory of a child’s life.”

The annual WKAR report’s book lists are designed to help educators find engaging books for students who may be struggling to connect with literature, Renaissance said in a news release.

The Grade-Range Lists highlight how different literacy education looks as students move between ages, grades, and abilities, and focus on the specific skills that literacy experts have identified as supporting literacy growth and comprehension at each benchmark level.

WKAR's Grade-Range Lists include:

  • Highly Decodable books for grades K–2
  • Vocabulary Practice for grades 3–5
  • Background Knowledge Builders for grades 6–8
  • High Interest and Accessible books for struggling students in grades 9–12

In addition to Renaissance’s annual Signature Books list, which reveals the most popular book in each state, the report includes the following lists, for each grade level:

  • New and Now Reads, which are titles just being discovered by students
  • Top Print Titles and Popular Digital Reads
  • Authentic Spanish Titles, written for native speakers to help students make real-life connections, develop deeper vocabulary and linguistic understanding, and foster cultural appreciation
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Themes, designed to help educators and students begin conversations about our diverse makeup and how inclusion can help us thrive
  • Social and Emotional Learning Topics, which features two books that address a SEL-related topic

Visit to download a free copy of the report, explore data by state, and create personalized book lists.

About the Author

Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].