Date of Award

5-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Richard L. Allington

Committee Members

Deborah A. Wooten, Anne McGill-Franzen, Stergios Botzakis, Dennis Ciancio

Abstract

In today’s climate of education reform and the classroom concentration on texts that are academically rigorous, it is easy to forget the importance of encouraging voluntary reading for adolescents. Understanding students’ interests in texts can provide teachers with the knowledge to promote voluntary reading within the classroom. This embedded case study examined the popularity of texts in a public school district’s middle school libraries through quantitative data drawn from library circulation records. The records from 12 public middle school libraries from a school district in the southeastern United States were used to determine the 10 most frequently checked out books per school during the 2013-2014 school year. The books were read and analyzed to address the following research questions:

  1. Of books checked out from middle school libraries, which genres, subgenres, or formats are most prevalent?
  2. Which common composition and physical characteristics, as well as external influences, do these texts share?
  3. Is there a relationship among these factors and school demographics (i.e.—school size, minority status, poverty level)?

After distinguishing among the various categories of features for the texts, statistical analyses were conducted using several tests, such as the independent samples t-test, one-way analysis of variance, and chi-square test for association. The study found that the middle school students had definitive preferences for the texts they checked out from school libraries. Fiction was significantly preferred over nonfiction with graphic novels and those in the science fiction/fantasy subgenre chosen more often than other subgenres. Protagonists in the popular texts were significantly more often white, middle-school age or older, and from one- or two-parent homes. The authors of the text were significantly more likely to be white and male. Finally, when schools were grouped by similar demographics and texts were compared, genre and subgenre preferences were significantly different among the groups of varying demographics. Other significant findings are also discussed. The findings from this study indicate that adolescents were interested in texts that were relatively new and with relatable protagonists and story lines.

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