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  • Writer's picturePJ Gardner Switzer

Third & Nine (Third grade & Nine-years-old): An Introduction

When I was nine-years-old all the third grade classes in our school read Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White. We sat at our desks with a copy from the library while our teacher read aloud to us. Mrs. Hill sat in a tall chair at the front of the room and shared Wilbur and Charlotte’s story and we followed along. It was magical. I loved it so much I made my abuela buy the book so I could read ahead. That experience cemented my love of reading.

Literacy specialists know that nine is a critical age with regards to reading. A study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation discovered that academic achievement can be surmised from early reading proficiency, specifically by third grade. Unfortunately, that just so happens to be the same age/grade when kids fall out of love with books.

The seventh edition of Scholastic’s Kids & Family Reading Report, published in 2019, found some concerning shifts in the habits and attitudes of the group transitioning from eight to nine-years of age.

Reading for fun 5-7 days per week

  • 8 yr olds: 57%

  • 9 yr olds: 35%

Children who say they love reading

  • 8 yr olds: 40%

  • 9 yr olds: 28%

This drop in numbers is particularly worrisome, because, to quote the Kids & Family Reading Report, “rarely do we see a rebound from these benchmarks as kids grow older.”

All is not lost, however. When asked, most children felt that reading was important and that they should read for fun more. Which begs the question, why aren’t they?

Some of it is that they have access to so many other forms of entertainment. Some of it is that more is expected academically in third grade. And there’s another reason—there simply isn’t enough written for them. Yet. But that is about to change, I’m certain of it.

Which leads me to my point with this blog. I’m here to promote reading for the third and nine crowd. To that end, I’ll regularly share books and activities that they’ll enjoy.


Lesnick, J., Goerge, R., Smithgall, C., & Gwynne J. (2010). Reading on Grade Level in Third Grade: How Is It Related to High School Performance and College Enrollment? Chicago: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

Scholastic. (2019). Kids & Family Reading Report: 7th Edition.


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