Reading literacy is one of the key components in the teaching and learning process. This study aims to describe the differences in reading literacy of Indonesian students by gender and region and identify what factors are most likely to trigger these differences. An explanatory sequential mixed methods design was used through two stages to collect and analyze data: quantitative and qualitative. The total participants were 240 students and 8 teachers from both urban and rural schools. The results showed that there was a significant difference in the students' reading literacy score between male and female students (t = 4.007; p = 0.000) and between students in urban and rural areas (t = 4.889; p = 0.000) at the significance level of 0.05. This study concludes that female students have good perspective on reading, have high intrinsic motivation and task-focused behavior that altogether give higher impact on their reading literacy than male students do. In addition, differences in teacher quality, school facilities and infrastructures, learning environment, and sources of supporting materials are also the main factors why students in urban schools have better reading literacy than students in rural schools. The results of this study strengthen the sociocultural views that learning and development are influenced by the social and cultural environment of students.