Number of kids listening to audiobooks more than doubles in a year

Opinion - Children Thursday, 03 October 2019

The latest in our series of market reports from the Insights People

Kids Insights recently issued our latest Leisure Measure report, which focuses on the offline lives of kids - from how they spend their time to what they enjoy doing and what they are currently consuming. The report is based on the results of surveying 5,000 British children aged 3-18 between April and June 2019, though it also utilises data collected since May 2017.

This new data shows how audiobooks have doubled in popularity over the last 12 months, with 16% of children now enjoying the format.

With the modern accelerated pace of life, audiobooks are becoming an increasingly relevant way to get to know the best examples of literature. It is not surprising that the catalogue of recorded books is constantly expanding: the most anticipated new items almost always come out in two formats at once - for reading and for listening.

"Perhaps this style of reading appeals to those kids who would not normally read"

The children most likely to say they enjoy audiobooks are those between the ages of 7 and 13, skewed towards girls (54% to 46%). This is very similar to the gender split seen among fans of paperbacks: 57% girls / 43% boys.

Kids are likely to enjoy listening to audiobooks for several reasons. First, audiobooks give them the ability to do other things while listening to their favourite titles. To enjoy audiobooks, they don’t need to look for good lighting, be distracted from other activities, or carry piles of heavy books everywhere.

There is also the "snackable" quality of audiobooks, allowing kids to switch on and off as and when they please, including while on the go. According to our data, 34% of kids listen to audiobooks for just 15 minutes a week, suggesting that perhaps this style of reading appeals to those kids who would not normally read, but are now finding a route into books that suits them better.

In correlation, we're seeing audiobooks increase in popularity alongside access to smart speakers - but these aren't the only platform for listening to books. We have just added into our survey a question about Tonies. These are figurines of characters such as the Gruffalo or Rapunzel, which, when placed on top of a Toniebox, plays a recording of the related story aloud to the child without the need for an internet connection. We expect to see these impacting on the market over the next few months.

Given current developments, 2020 could see interactive audiobooks, supported by systems such as Alexa, become a major trend.

Our research and strategy team works with clients from across the sector, using data from surveying 21,300 kids across the UK each year. To download a complimentary Kids Insights report, visit, or to organise a meeting please call 0330 159 6631.

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