Monday, September 3, 2012

Reading Research Monday: Children's Literature Preferences

Broad Patterns in Preferences

The International Reading Association's research on Children's Literature revealed several broad patterns in children's preferences.  Ultimately, younger children like:
  • Narrative Forms
  • Lively Action
  • Humor
  • Nonsense

These preference hold true in the lower elementary grades.  However, research shows that reading interests between the genders begin to split in the upper elementary grades. 

Gender Preferences

According to an article in The Reading Teacher, upper elementary males prefer:
  • Enticing book covers (they do judge a book by its cover)
  • Series books by a favorite author
    • Particularly fantasy and realistic fiction
  • Books where a main character goes through a series of situations or where the book spans a long time
  • Informational books with illustrations and shorter passages
  • Graphic novels and graphic nonfiction
 The top five most popular categories for females in upper elementary as researched by the American Association of School Librarians are:
  • Animals
  • Science
  • Literature
  • Sports
  • Biography
The AASL found that females enjoy leisurely reading more than males and that females also enjoy a wide range of books, showing much individual preference.

Regardless of age, teachers should choose books that fall under broad preferences for read-alouds to interest as many students as possible.  However, independent or small group reading should be tailored to students' individual interests to help build intrinsic motivation for reading.

Middle School and High School

As students age, two main trends become apparent.  First, the number of students who say they read for enjoyment declines.  Second, students reading preferences become highly individualized. 
These two factors can make it difficult for teachers to find texts that engage students and motivate them to read.  Ultimately, teachers (and parents) need to get to know their students so they can help recommend books that will be of high interest to them.  Utilize school and local librarians to help make book-student matches.  Students are not opposed to reading when they find books that they like.

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What broad preferences do you see amongst your students or children?  What specific books or authors can your kids not put down?

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