Online serials gaining in popularity among younger readers - Education Matters Magazine
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Online serials gaining in popularity among younger readers

Kids will soon be heading back to school across Australia, bringing renewed attention to the skills they’ll need to excel throughout the year, and whether they’re prepared.

One area of concern is literacy and reading skills, a skillset that is worsening for many Aussie kids.

The latest NAPLAN results indicate one in three Australian school children are behind where they should be on literacy and just over half achieved the National Proficiency Standard (57% in reading) according to the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results.

Recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal that Aussie kids may be reading less for pleasure and spending more time focusing on screens.

Nine in ten children (90%) spend at least one hour a week on screen-based activities, with a rise in children spending more than 20 hours a week.

A gender gap is increasing in how children are reading with only 68% of boys reading for pleasure as compared to 77% of girls.

Further, reading for pleasure decreases in popularity over time; 63% of 12 to 14-year-olds read books compared with 76% of five- to eight-year-olds.

However, a relatively new phenomenon appears to be bucking the trend.

Online serials, such as The Wandering Inn, are website specific stories where readers can access an entire novel, or series, for free.

They are an increasingly popular form of reading and one that can keep children reading and attract new readers.

Online serials are increasingly popular among adult Australians with nearly 9% reading websites for a specific story/creator, such as The Wandering Inn.

Younger Australians are also keen on web serials with nearly 19% of Gen Z reading them.

Statistics show 15% of The Wandering Inn’s readership is 17 and under, and 85% is male.

The unique features of online serials helping reach new audiences include:

  • They feature shorter character and story arcs that take place within a continuing story. These create easy-to-digest stories and a faster feeling of accomplishment for readers.
  • They tend to be looser with genre than published novels, meaning they’re often either different to what young readers have encountered before or more likely to align with eclectic interests.
  • In The Wandering Inn’s case, the genre-bending role-playing game aspects of the story appeal to a cohort of gamers that are non-traditionally readers.
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