Monday, February 14, 2011

Research Begins... Youth and Reading

When doing some initial research for one of the class projects requiring us to locate 5 articles/studies about a topic that interests us I was surprised to find myself jumping right into locating my 5 articles.

We were asked to work in a group and were given the topic of Youth and Reading.

I started off by thinking about how exactly I wanted to approach this topic – what sort of spin did I want to put on it that would make it interesting to me.

I immediately thought of those teens who are reluctant readers, or who weren't in the habit of actually opening a book and reading it, be it for school or pleasure (ok ok – mostly for pleasure, they're pretty much stuck reading for school).

I used two databases for my searches, Academic Search Premier and Library Literature & Information Science Full Text from the San José State Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library page of articles and databases. I knew the articles needed to be full text and peer reviewed, so I chose those search parameters throughout my process.

Some of the search words I thought of – some in a truncated search – were:


When the words are separated by a / I used both in one of the search boxes separated by a Boolean operator.

I wanted to explore what or whom encouraged teens to read, what their motivations were. I was also interested if any habits played a role in how much they read.
I had over seven articles/studies that were my top choices, but had to narrow them down to five which included tossing out one that was very vague about the research behind it.

I liked it when the authors stated previous research or current literature on their subject because I think I would enjoy having the opportunity to read some of it. I also had recognized and read some of it for other classes so I was familiar with the authors and their work. I also liked it when the authors were concise and didn’t throw too much data at you at one time.

After reading my articles, I noticed that several referred to the Teen Read Week Survey put out by YALSA and the SmartGirl organization. In having done marketing research, I know a little about formulating the right type of questions for surveys, so it was interesting to see the progression of the survey throughout the years and throughout the articles/studies. At this point, it would be interesting to see the question writing process and who is responsible for the structure of the survey.

One thing I noticed from the surveys is that boys are less likely to read than girls, so more effort needs to be put in on getting them to read. One of the studies involved the changed summer reading program at Barnstable High School in Massachusetts, which allowed more freedom in book choices for their students. I think I like the idea of allowing students more freedom beyond the same old assigned classics.

One other interesting thing to me is the belief that book reading is the only reading that counts. Many people don't count magazines, newspapers, blogs, and other formats of the written word be it on real paper or on the Internet. I would be curious to see how that is changing both in the schools and in libraries.

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