Date of Award
Master of Arts in Education
Jeanne M. Donovan
The purpose of this study was to determine the reading interests of middle school students ranging in age from 10 to 14 years. The middle school has grown tremendously in acceptance since its beginnings in the 1960's. Years of study, careful planning, and evaluation using pilot schools preceded the success of this new grouping of students, usually consisting of grades six, seven, and eight. However, one aspect of the middle school did not receive the attention it deserved. Little can be found in a review of research on student use of the middle school library. Studies were directed either to the use of the elementary or the junior high library. The unique age group making up the middle school deserved research concerning their reading interests. These studies would provide the necessary information for the restructuring of the middle school library. This writer felt that a survey of middle school reading interests would also benefit teachers and librarians so that their students would not only be able to read but would include reading as an indispensable part of their lives, now and in the future.
A questionnaire was developed to determine the reading interests of the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students of two middle schools in the Midwest. Slightly over 1300 responded to the survey; 641 boys and 664 girls participated. The survey covered such topics as attitudes toward reading, the use of the library, favorite authors, books, and reading material.
The survey was completed by students in the two middle schools in March, 1984. Results were tabulated and percentages established for the 18 statements on the survey. Comparisons were made between the grade levels and sexes as related to reading interests of the participants.
The results of this study indicated that the middle school students were a unique group unto themselves and did indeed deserve a survey covering only their reading interests.
Among the findings of the survey, were a positive attitude toward reading by the majority of the students. However, television viewing was still preferred to reading a book. Scheduled library time was important to the older students who did not find time to use the library unless school time was set aside. The students preferred to select their own books. Adventure stories, mysteries, and humorous stories were favorite subjects among both boys and girls. The group surveyed had no preference concerning the sex of the novel's protagonist. Variety dominated the list of their favorite books. Judy Blume was the favorite author of the majority of the students but many other authors were also named. Many students could not remember the name of an author. The girls on all levels wanted more romance stories in the library. Both boys and girls requested more mysteries. The number of books read monthly decreased considerably from grade six to grade eight, especially among the boys. The findings also indicated that a wide variety of books on various reading levels would be necessary in the middle school library to fill the needs of all the students.
Hettich, Kathleen Irene, "A Survey of the Reading Interests of the Middle School Student" (1984). Theses. 786.
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