Report Reveals Exponential Growth in K–12 Digital Reading

K–12 student reading platform Sora, a division of educational digital content provider OverDrive, has released its first report, "The State of K–12 Digital Reading," showing that student reading had increased exponentially during the 2022-23 school year over previous years.

"The report reveals compelling regional differences, double digit growth in Comics and Graphic Novels, and a surprising insight on which months tracked the most time spent reading," the platform reported.

The survey tracked the use of e-books, audiobooks, digital comics, and magazines from July 2022 through June 2023 from 62,000 schools worldwide using the Sora reading platform.

Key findings include:

  • Digital reading grew 286% since 2019, with reading growth increasing by 12% just in 2022-23;
  • Sora reading app sessions rose by over 8% the previous year, and total books read increased by 3%;
  • Comics and graphic novel reading among all grades increased by over 56%;
  • Series were most popular for all students, with young adults choosing "coming of age" themes especially;
  • Comics and humor dominated several e-book fiction lists, and mysteries, biography/autobiography, and digital arts were the most popular nonfiction subjects;
  • Humor was the fastest growing audiobook genre (+88%);
  • E-books were the most popular reading format (84%), with comics and graphic novels their main genre, growing from 31% to 42% of checkouts;
  • Despite having lower numbers of unique users, the highest average reading periods were during July (4.6 hours), followed by June (2.6 hours), and March (2.3 hours);
  • Sora Sweet Reads, a summer reading program, grew 25% since 2019;
  • The states with the most digital checkouts were Texas, New York, California, Utah, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts; and
  • Device access to Sora was highest for desktops (57%), followed by iOS (32%), and Android (11%).

The report showed preferred genres varied by region: Northeast — sociology; Southeast and Southwest — sports and recreation; Midwest and West — young adult romance; and Pacific Northwest — nature.

"We loaned almost 136,000 titles in Sora in 2023 and had over 60,000 reading hours, and for a region with only 28,000 students that's a lot of reading," said Mary Ann Munroe, school library services and E-learning coordinator at Greater Southern Tier Board of Cooperative Educational Services in New York.

For more information, including genre trends and which titles students were reading, access the report here.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.