Text Polling on Reading Habits With Grades 7-9

The kids were surprised that I asked them to bring their mobile devices to library classes and they surprised me too!

Hands holding phone texting

By Jhaymesisviphotography on Flickr

Mostly I was surprised that only about half of them had devices with them and a few of them were not text-capable. So the sample in my poll was quite small, although I did get some more answers by a raise of hands.

Not Enough Reading For Fun

I used PollEverywhere (a free and friendly site) and embedded the questions in a Power Point. I found that only about half of the students often read for enjoyment, and some did rarely or not at all, which was a little disappointing. Although I know that reading for fun is not part of some kids’ lives, I guess I had always hoped that most of those who were not checking out materials from the library were finding their reading materials elsewhere.

I also discovered that print magazines are still more popular than those online, however there is a possibility that some students weren’t identifying some of their online reading as ‘magazines’ and I will have to show and discuss more of this medium in the future.

Asleep with book in hand

By Quinn Dombrowski
on Flickr

Most of the readers did most of their pleasure reading in bed, which didn’t surprise me and is why I encourage parents to set bedtime at least a half-hour earlier than they expect their children to be asleep, and allow reading-only during that time. Most readers like series and most still buy from bookstores in spite of the fact that there is not one within 200 km. of our town. A few buy online or get from the public or school library and (another surprise) none swap with friends or buy used books.

Books/Movies Divide

When I asked the question: “More than anything else, I want stories (movies & books) to be: exciting, funny, realistic, romantic or supernatural”, there were choices across the spectrum. But curiously, most chose “funny”. However, when I asked them to name some funny books they liked they had no suggestions! It turned out that most thought only of movies when they answered the question. I do wonder then whether I need to purchase and promote humourous teen fiction. I also need to either rephrase the questions or ask it about books and movies separately.

Teenager reading by window

By Demi-Brooke
on Flickr

So, although the sample was too small to be really instructive, I did learn a few things. There are still students who are not reading for pleasure at all and some rarely. Since research is showing that reading for pleasure is one of the most important factors influencing life skills and academic success (one source), even one in that category is too many. I need to identify and target those kids. These non-readers tend to put up a brick wall when approached directly with book suggestions so I need to find out why they’re non-readers and then find some kind of back-door to sneakily get them to open a book that will grab their attention. Are they ‘reluctant readers’ or just too busy with other things?

What to Do?

I touched on teens and home reading in my September newsletter but maybe there’s more I can do. Junior High library classes have always been their book exchange and silent reading time. With their teachers’ approval, this year I will be showing online resources, book trailers and discussing books more as a group for part of their class. I’m also printing QR codes to attach to books so students can access trailers, reviews and series lists on their mobile devices.

By  Jayel Aheram on Flickr

By Jayel Aheram
on Flickr

Here is some of the reading I’m doing to strategize my approach to those kids who haven’t discovered or have forgotten the joy of reading for pleasure. If you know of any great tips or sites to share, please do in the comments.

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6 Comments

Filed under Education, Library Class, Library Management, Library Programs, Online Resources, Reading

6 responses to “Text Polling on Reading Habits With Grades 7-9

  1. One thing’s for sure — my love of books and reading is directly traceable to my parents. I was read to practically from the day I was born, and there was plentiful, age appropriate material around for me once I began reading at about age three. Beyond that, my folks read, and I never was told to leave “adult” books alone.

    How do you instill a love of reading? Start young, like this. Or, if you’re dealing with someone who missed out on such experiences, find ways to replicate them. Our school system has set up a mentoring program that pairs plain old community members with students — they get together for a half-hour, twice a week,and just read together. It’s pretty popular.

    • I totally agree with you and I’m trying to encourage more reading at home at all ages. There was a culture of reading in my home growing up as well and I read to my boys from infancy into their teens. Our special ed teacher has done some programs on reading to children too but we’re always preaching to the choir. I like that idea of a mentoring program – I’m going to see what I can do with that. I wonder if I could get 14-year-old boys to agree to it…

  2. Your poll is very interesting. I’m surprised that everyone didn’t have a “device” of some kind! I like that mentoring idea. And you have a K-12 school, right? Those bigger kids could be mentoring the younger ones. I know that in the K-12 school that I visit, the younger kids WORSHIP the high schoolers. They would do anything for them!!

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