Wednesday, 17 February 2021

You'll never walk alone - H Trevor Shakeshaft, from 'Choir Schools Today' Issue 10 (1996)

H Trevor Shakeshaft, a former Schools' Music Adviser urges more co-operation between state and independent musicians. 

"You've passed - you're on your own now," says the driving instructor to a successful pupil - as though it's good to be on your own. I know that, for me at any rate, the euphoria of success was very soon tinged with apprehension as I realised that I was now solely responsible for a ton of lethal metal, and, even more important, the lives of my passengers.

The same mixed feelings accompany one's qualification as a teacher - only those of us who have experienced it realise how lonely it is to stand in front of a class of youngsters for the first (or, for that matter. the thousandth) time.

And, for music teachers, it's somehow different again. We don't merely have to correct errors like beginning a paragraph with a conjunction . . . . Our work can often bring us into direct conflict with other members of staff, as we plead (yet again!) for the flute players to be released from science so that they can prepare for that concert which has suddenly appeared on the calendar only three days away. Often, then, the music specialist, even in the musically rarefied atmosphere of a Choir School, can feel isolated from colleagues. 

Furthermore, if we project this isolation into the wider field of music education, both state and privately funded, we can find instances of schools which - either from choice or necessity - have little contact with other establishments. 

In many years as a Teacher Adviser for Music in the state sector, I found that it was often the schools where standards in a particular musical field were very high which became cut off from the musical activities of the local community. Schools which could well have helped their feeder establishments experience a high degree of excellence became very inward looking. This, in turn, often led to their own pupils 'losing out' on participation in the perhaps less technically proficient, but certainly socially rewarding activities, like local workshops and non-competitive festivals for example. 

In the state sector, with larger numbers of schools in an area, it is relatively simple to organise concerted activities for several schools. However, in the independent sector, such co-operation can be more difficult for logistical reasons. 

Co-operation between musicians in the state and independent sectors need not be difficult - and there are some organisations which support and encourage such contact. Since my retirement from full time teaching/advising a couple of years ago, I have become involved in two such organisations - the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and the Schools Music Association (SMA). Earlier this year, the Warwickshire Centre of the ISM organised a Choral Celebration, involving well over 100 singers, ranging in age from 8 to ... (well, much older, anyway!). Each of the five choirs sang for the others, then all combined in a specially composed piece which was rehearsed and performed at the end of the evening. 

The West Midlands Region of the SMA, which has recently been re-established, held a course for music teachers at the University of Central England in Birmingham, and we are in the early stages of planning, along with the East Midlands Region, a combined orchestral event for the more advanced players (around Grade 6 upwards) from - probably - independent schools in the whole of the Midlands area. Also in the planning stage are a West Midlands Region SMA teachers' course in the Spring term, and other events set up by the Warwickshire Centre of the ISM. 

I imagine that in the vast majority of cases, I am preaching to the converted, but just in case there are even a few readers who, as music teachers, would welcome the opportunity to discuss issues of common interest with other musicians in education and in other areas of the profession, perhaps you would consider contacting either organisation for further details of membership and information about what is going on in your area - after all you have nothing to lose but the cost of a stamp, and a great deal to gain - musically, socially, and educationally. 

Both of the organisations allow corporate membership for schools and other establishments, as well as individual membership, and both confer benefits which far outweigh the cost of their subscriptions. As a member of either organisation, or even a participant in a combined schools' event, "You'll never walk alone." 

Addresses:
The Incorporated Society of Musicians, 10 Stratford Place, London W1N 9AE
The Schools Music Association, 71 Margaret Road, New Barnet, Hertforshire, EN4 9NT 

Trevor Shakeshaft is Chairman, West Midlands Region SMA, Secretary,
Warwickshire Centre ISM and an Independent Music Education Consultant 

this article originally appeared in the 1996 edition of 'Choir Schools Today', the magazine of the Choir Schools' Association.


Sunday, 24 January 2021

The Reading Habits of the Secondary School Child by Trevor Shakeshaft (1966/7)

Written as part of a teacher training course at the City of Birmingham College of Education during the 1966/7 academic year, the following is the text and download links of a research project into the reading habits of teenage children. As well as being a fascinating insight into the students' reading habits at the time, reading it some 55 years after it was written, it is a brilliant historic artefact in itself, revealing contemporary ideas and attitudes towards education.

In the downloadable files, the histograms are reproduced for the impeccably hand-drawn originals, as it the calligraphed title page. The whole document was typed on a typewriter (with two colour ribbons), and the formatting of the tables and accuracy of the typing suggests that a lot of work went into the production of this research, as can be seen from the original scanned manuscript.


Original Manuscript (scanned) | Transcribed/Formatted Paper: Word | PDF

The Reading Habits of the Secondary School Child

H Trevor Shakeshaft

CHAPTER I – Introduction: the Necessity of Reading Ability

Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man
(Francis Bacon)

Any discussion on a subject as wide-ranging as the habits of the adolescent must begin by establishing the exact subject matter to be covered. This introduction is an attempt to do this.

The field which I have aimed to cover in this study is that of the adolescent’s habits regarding his reading matter. School textbooks are excluded, since such books are not selected by the child himself. The main field covered, then, is that of leisure reading, although there are also sections dealing with the voluntary use of books, in libraries or at home, as aids to work done at school. It is emphasized that such use is voluntary. Reading which is very closely guided by teachers in school falls outside the scope of this study.

In essence, this is an attempt to analyse the part which reading plays in the general life of the adolescent, and also it aims to consider the provision of assistance to the child in choice of reading matter, the availability of various types of matter, the part played by libraries in the activities of the child, and the effects of various types of reading on the child. It would, therefore, be advisable to discuss, at the outset, the possible advantages of reading to the child.

The ability to read is one of the basic necessities of modern life for the child (and, of course, adult), either at home or at school. This is becoming more and more important in these days of forms, questionnaires, etc. Another item which follows closely on this is writing. It may seem somewhat illogical to mention writing so early in a study on reading, but each is such an adjunct to the other that separation, particularly at this stage, is almost impossible. (I refer rather to the writing of good, comprehensible English than to the mere mechanics of handwriting.) A child who has read widely will, as a general rule, be able to express himself on paper, or in conversation, much more fluently than could a child who has read little, even if their attainment ages in reading and writing show substantial similarity. The child’s attainments in the actual ‘mechanics’ of reading and writing are probably not to be altered appreciably by his choice of reading matter, but his standard of comprehension and the extent of his vocabulary will be considerably improved in most cases, if his reading has been extensive and over a wide field.

Communication is one of the most important facets of modern life, and the written word is still as important as ever, even in these days of television and radio. The spoken word must always retain its importance in any type of communication, and in using either the written or the spoken word, a most valuable asset is a wide range of expression. The most satisfactory way of building up a useful vocabulary is by reading – an occupation which can also provide great pleasure. This last point will be dealt with in a later chapter.

This introduction may conveniently be summed up by quoting, from Schonell’s Psychology and teaching of reading (4th ed., 1961), “A reading handicap is a social handicap”.

 

CHAPTER II – Standards of reading ability in secondary schools

Learn to read slow; all other graces will follow in their proper places
(Rev. William Walker, 1623-84)

Before we can discuss the reading habits of the secondary school child, we must first take some account of the standards of reading ability which prevail in such schools.

Children are normally admitted to secondary school at the age of 11+. The normal mental age (see Glossary) at which the average child is able to read fairly fluently (albeit with an extremely limited vocabulary ), is around seven. Thus, a child of ten years of age who can read at this standard will have a mental age of seven and an IQ (see Glossary) of 70. Such an IQ is generally recognised as marking the lower limit of the range categorised as “Dull”. A child with an IQ below this level is normally considered as being educationally sub-normal (ESN), and would probably be accommodated at a special school. A child of 11+ who is not able to read at all should not, then, be found in a normal secondary school (since his IQ would, by general definition, be considerably below 70). Mental Age, however, is too general a term to be used as above, to apply to what is really an attainment age (qv) in reading. The correlation between reading ability and general intelligence is discussed later in this chapter.

On the basis of the extremely general premises made above, we may say that in the type of secondary school under consideration there are, or should be, no complete illiterates. There may, however, be a few cases of semi-literacy in the lower streams of a non-selective school. A national survey was carried out on eleven-year-old children in this country in 1956 (the most recent survey of its type), to discover the numbers of children who could be described as illiterate or semi-literate. This showed that approximately 1% of the children tested fell into one of these categories. This was taken as the national average, but various areas surveyed separately have showed different results. For example, a similar survey carried out in Wakefield in 1966 showed that only 0.59% of eleven year-olds fell into either of these classes, whilst one held in the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1965-66 produced a figure of 1.737. There would thus appear to be a fairly wide variation over the country. National surveys between 1948 and 1956, showed a general improvement in the reading ability of children of 11+. In 1948, the national average of illiterate or semi-literate eleven year-olds was 57; in 1952, the figure was 3%; and by 1956 it had decreased again, to 1%. Surveys have been carried out since this date (though not specifically covering illiteracy), which confirm that reading standards are still improving, generally speaking. The most recently published results are those of a survey carried out in 1964, as part of the evidence for the Plowden Committee, reporting on Primary Education, and these show that the reading age of 11 year-old children improved by 17 months between 1948 and 1964. However, a criticism has been levelled at this result by Dr Joyce Morris of the National Foundation for Educational Research: that progress in reading ability showed but a modest improvement between 1956 and 1964. It would thus seem that the rate of progress is slowing down somewhat, but the fact remains that around 99% of children entering secondary schools today can read fairly fluently. Standards of reading can, however, vary within considerable limits, as pointed out earlier in this chapter; in fact, a reading age of anything from 8% to 13 or 14 years may be expected from an 11 year-old at the moment. By definition, of course, the great majority of children of this age will have attainment ages in reading and other subjects which fall between 10 and 12 years, but the minority who fall outside this category must not be forgotten. Provision has been made for such children in many public libraries, and in many secondary schools it has been found necessary to continue tuition in reading ‘per se’ for the lower streams during the first one or two years at least.

Schonell, (Psychology and Teaching of Reading, 1961), blames the mediocre reading standards in secondary schools partly upon the promotion policies in British primary schools. Earlier policies allowed a much more flexible approach to the age of transfer, which assisted teachers in allowing children to remain at junior school until reasonably proficient in the basic skills (within limits, of course).

We must now consider the minimum standards which can, or should, be expected of children leaving secondary school and entering this modern world, where, as we have said, reading skill is such a basic necessity. The most widespread form of reading matter read by adults, is probably the newspaper, and it is perhaps permissible to take, as the minimum reading age with which a child should leave secondary school, the reading age at which comprehension of the newspaper is possible. According to Schonell (op.cit.) many newspapers require a reading age of only ten. Surely this would, even in a dull or backward 15-16 year old, be the absolute minimum?

The first necessity in providing a complete education for the secondary school child, as far as reading is concerned, then, is that his reading age on leaving school is not less than ten. This must be regarded as the absolute minimum, or his reading for the rest of his life would, in theory at least, be confined to the tabloid newspapers and children’s books or comics!

One of the greatest problems facing the teaching of reading in any school is the questionable (in many cases) validity of tests of reading age in comparison with mental age. Some American psychologists have quoted a correlation coefficient between reading ability and general intelligence of +0.5 to +0.8. Such correlations are, however, extremely difficult to educe with any real accuracy. J Roy Newton (Reading in Your School, McGraw-Hill, 1960), cites several factors which contribute to this view. First, he suggests that the validity of intelligence tests is not as high as it might be, and that, due to lack of comparable research figures, reading tests are often even less reliable. He next compares the different types of ability measured by such tests. The verbal intelligence test measures the child’s ability to understand and use words, usually in isolation or in short sentences, while a reading test asks the child to apply this ability in a far more complex way. Newton’s next point, and this seems to be an important one, is that many children of higher-than-average intelligence read at a standard far below that of which they are capable, due to various influences, which may be environmental, emotional, social, etc. In timed tests, also, variation might be expected, since a child who could read easily, and comprehend a series of short, unconnected sentences in an intelligence test, might find considerable difficulty in reading a connected series of several paragraphs ‘in depth’. Re-reading might then be necessary for full comprehension, with a resulting loss of time.

Finally, we must consider the possible causes of reading deficiencies in the secondary school. Schonell (op.cit.) lists seven factors which, singly, or in any combination, could cause backwardness in reading: (a) General dullness in relation to age group; (b) repeated absences in early primary schools; (c) visual and/or auditory weaknesses; (d) (if neural or physical defects are apparent) lack of remedial help for disability, with less than average time spent on the individual in junior school; (e) social backgrounds which do not work to the child’s advantage in academic studies; (f) lack of motivation (qv), due to other less academic interests, or lack of encouragement from passive parents; (g) emotional attitudes resulting from continuing failures in junior schools.

To sum up this chapter, it should be emphasized

(1)    that mechanical reading tuition should not be considered complete when a child enters secondary school unless his reading age is at least equivalent to his mental age, and

(2)    no child with a reading age of less than, say, 11-12, should be allowed to leave any normal secondary school.

NOTE: A survey carried out in 1953 by Middlesbrough Head Teachers’ Association, showed that “secondary schools must expect a proportion of their entrants each year to be in need of supplementary lessons in both mechanical reading and reading for comprehension...”

 

CHAPTER III – Leisure time spent on reading

Leisure without books is death, and burial of a man alive (Seneca)

Having considered the ability in reading which is available to children at secondary school, we must next take account of another necessity – time. Whatever a child’s capabilities as regards reading, he will be unable to take advantage of them without the time in which to read.

First, the total time available: The normal school day, in most areas, may be reckoned as approximately 9.00am to 4.00pm. Allowing for 30 minutes travelling time, we are left with the period from 4.30pm to bedtime. (The latter time, of course, is subject to great variation from child to child). This rather vaguely defined space of time, then, is that which we may assume is available to the average child for leisure pursuits, home work, and, of course, meals. Homework is, naturally, a further limiting factor, but is one which again is subject to considerable variation.

The primary object of this study, however, is to consider the voluntary reading habits of children (i.e. reading done during leisure time in most instances). With this in mind, a small survey was carried out by the writer. This took the form of a questionnaire which was circulated to 360 secondary school children, 180 boys, and 180 girls. Among the 14 questions was one which asked “At which of these activities do you spend most time?”. There followed a choice of five activities – sport; television; helping with housework; reading; and going out with friends. (The questionnaire is reproduced in an Appendix, together with a tabulated summary of the exact results, while at the end of this chapter a rough impression of the results obtained from this particular question is given as a histogram). Results indicate that reading has a very low priority, in the average child’s eyes, in the list of demands on his leisure. It is noticeable that girls appear to read much more than do boys, and that in both histograms reading is placed fourth out of the five alternatives. In the case of boys, the only activity less popular than reading is ‘helping with housework’, while in the case of the girls, the unpopularity of reading is equalled (exactly, in the cases studied) only by that of sport (which, incidentally, occurs at the head of the list for boys). Both boys and girls seem to spend approximately equal proportions of their leisure on watching television and on going out with friends, and this equality is also seen when the results for the boys are compared with those for the girls, with respect to these two alternatives. These results are probably only to be expected, but it is difficult to account for the great difference between the priorities given to reading by boys and by girls. It may be due to the sedentary nature of reading compared with the more active pursuits traditionally enjoyed by boys; or it could be due to a lack of suitable literature for consumption by the adolescent boy (though this seems very unlikely). A further possibility is that standards of reading by boys are lower than those of girls of comparable age (again a situation which does not appear to exist, since surveys on reading ability have shown little or no evidence of such a difference). Perhaps, then, the responses given to this particular question are not valid, in view of the relatively small number of children and the limited area covered. However, in a book by James S Coleman – The Adolescent Society (New York, 1961) – the author reveals that in response to the question “What is your favourite way of spending leisure time?”, 35.9% of American high school girls studied placed reading in one of the four spaces provided for responses, while only 13.7% of boys tested listed reading in answer to the question. Unfortunately, the present writer has been unable to see a copy of this book (the paraphrases given above were quoted by Frances M Beck in a paper given at the Annual Conference on Reading held at the University of Chicago in 1964), and so any conclusions drawn by Coleman are not available. The explanation given above, however – that boys probably prefer more active pursuits – seems the most plausible, and is also borne out to some extent by the fact that sport figures first in the boys’ selections for this question.

If we combine the results obtained from boys and girls for this question, we find that watching television is the most popular occupation among the children tested. This is followed very closely (so closely, in fact, that we may consider it equal in view of the small sample taken) by “going out with friends”. Sport comes next in order (most popular with boys, as stated above), followed by housework (figures here are, of course, made up mostly by the girls), and with reading bringing up the rear most decisively. This trend is also borne out by the survey made in the USA by Coleman (op.cit.) in which he attached such little importance to reading that no item other than the question quoted above elicits a response related to reading as an activity of youth.

A further result of combining figures obtained from both boys and girls is shown if school streaming is taken into account. Eighty-four children from “C” streams completed the questionnaire, and of these only two listed reading as the leisure activity occupying most of their time. (It is also probably significant that both of these were girls.) This could indicate several possibilities – either that children at lower intelligence levels find difficulty in reading to such an extent that they read only what is absolutely essential or compulsory, or that such children lack the necessary motivation towards reading, due to its ‘academic’ flavour. A further possibility is that reading material which is ’mechanically’ within their capabilities is designed, as regards subject matter, etc., to appeal to younger children – it is thus considered too ‘babyish’ for the taste of older children. More will be said on this subject in a later chapter. However, to return to the other possibilities and consider possible remedies: in the first case, the obvious move is to provide extra reading tuition, so that the reading handicap may be lessened or eliminated. In both cases, a study of the particular interests of the child should be made, so that reading suited to his own interests may be encouraged. For example, a boy who is a keen footballer may be recommended to read books on the technique of football (beginning with those with many illustrations and progressing to those with more dependence on verbal description. He might then progress to reading about famous footballers, and from this stage, his interest in reading having been aroused, his reading may develop and branch out to cover wider fields. However, this is a digression from the main subject of this chapter – time.

We shall discuss later the number of books normally read by children for pleasure – a subject allied closely with that of this chapter – but the “time” aspect of this study may be summed up as follows: the average child in a secondary school has a considerable amount of leisure time. Of this time, a regrettably small proportion is spent on reading for pleasure, and recreational reading seems to play a very small part in the life of the adolescent.

Histogram of responses to question about Leisure Activities

 

CHAPTER IV – Types of reading matter available to the child

 Not as ours the books of yore – rows of type and nothing more (H A Dobson, 1840-1921)

There are two main types of reading material to which the child has access. These are (a) books; and (b) periodicals. These broad classes may again be subdivided into smaller groups, as follows: (a) books – made up of non-illustrated books; illustrated books; and paperbacks; (b) periodicals – made up of magazines; newspapers; and comics. It will be seen that this chapter is designed to discuss not the content of such material, but the method of presentation employed.

Various sources of such reading matter are open to the child, and these will be considered in detail in later chapters. However, a short list is given here, with brief comments. First, the home as a source of reading matter. The number and variety of books found in the home will vary due to several factors – the intelligence of parents; the number and age of children in the family; the occupations of various members of the family; the reading habits of other adults and children in the family. The same influences will affect the periodicals found in the home, though one type of periodical which we might assume to be common to every home is the newspaper. Regarding reading specifically for children, this would necessarily depend partly on the factors enumerated above, but would also be more influenced by the family’s financial situation, and the attitude of the parents to their children. The next source which we must consider is the school library. This is an institution found in the vast majority of secondary schools, and in view of its importance it will be discussed at greater length in a later chapter. Suffice it here to say that in 1928 the (then) Board of Education, in a ‘Memorandum on Libraries in State- aided Secondary Schools’, described the library as “an indispensable part of every secondary school”. It is unfortunate that this statement has not been as fully implemented as it might have been. As sources of reading material, school libraries can vary considerably due to several factors, the most important ones being finance and the efficiency of the book selection procedure. The range of periodicals covered by the school library is again subject to considerable variation, though the cheaper type of comic is not normally to be found here. In the public library, a wider range of reading matter is normally accommodated, though this source will not be so readily accessible to the child.

At present, a much wider range of literature is available in cheap, paperbacked, editions than has ever been the case before. These books can provide, at very low cost, an extremely wide selection of reading matter. Unfortunately, however, a considerable proportion of these paperbacks are somewhat lurid in appearance, and also, in some cases, content. This tends to create an unfavourable impression on many people. Such an impression is, in the majority of cases, unjustified. Books specifically for children have more recently appeared in such cheap editions. Although in most cases these books are not very attractively produced, they provide an admirable means of building up, cheaply, a fairly extensive personal library. The main disadvantage of such cheaply produced editions, so far as presentation is concerned, is that illustrations are often poorly reproduced, or are few in number. However, with new printing and photographic techniques, the importance of this criticism is declining.

Periodicals probably play the most important single part in a child’s reading life, though the total number of books read by adolescents is probably considerable. In the survey of which the results appear in the appendix, it was shown that periodicals do figure largely in the adolescent’s reading. Comics, particularly, were placed first in order of preference, though illustrated books came a very close second. However, a later chapter will deal more closely with the actual selection of reading matter. The purpose here is to list the possible sources, and various types, of material for reading by a child. In What Children Think of their Comics, by George H Pumphrey (Epworth Press, 1964), the author states, in the results of his questionnaire, that secondary grammar school boys listed 246 separate periodicals, while similar girls named 138. It is highly probable that these numbers do not indicate the total number of periodicals which may appeal to this age-group, and so we may see that the range of choice available to secondary school children in the field of such periodicals is extremely wide. It may, however, be significant that Pumphrey (op.cit) lists, under the heading “The main publishers of comics/periodicals”, some 46 of the more popular comics. Only five publishing firms are indicated as bearing responsibility for these comics, and three of these firms between them publish no less than thirty-eight of the periodicals listed. The presentation of such periodicals varies within very wide limits, depending to some extent on the price range, and on the age range at which the publications are particularly aimed. However, in several cases, an expensive comic is very poorly produced, while for a similar price, a far more lavish publication is available.

It may thus be seen that three main sources of reading material are open to the child: the home, the school library, and the public library. Within these sources, the range of reading material is extremely wide, and the choice of the individual child’s reading may be influenced by a considerable number of external factors. These will be considered in a later chapter.


CHAPTER V – The volume of literature read for pleasure by the adolescent.

 ... let there be a good supply of books and a yearly store of provisions. (Horace)

We must now take account of the actual volume of literature which children read for their own pleasure. The type of material covered first will be books.

As the results of the questionnaire show (see Appendix and histograms at the end of this chapter), the majority of boys and girls read only one book, or less, per week, on average. In fact, 239 of the 360 children who filled in forms gave one or other of the first two alternative responses to this question (Q1). If the average number of books read weekly by any one child is calculated, we see that in the case of boys the figure is 1.40, while the girls’ results produce a figure of 1.42 – a markedly similar result. (It must be noted that, in computing these figures, the response “less than one” has been assumed, somewhat arbitrarily, to indicate that one book is read per fortnight. There is no significance in this figure; it has been taken merely as a working basis.) In view of statements made earlier (Ch. III), there appears here to be something of an anomaly. It was stated that girls spend more leisure time on reading than do boys; and yet amounts of reading done by boys and by girls correspond closely. This appears difficult to explain. One possible explanation is that the list of possible responses to the ‘leisure activities’ question omitted some important activity peculiar to girls with the result that the figures produced were unbalanced. This seems unlikely, however, as the American survey carried out by Coleman produced closely corresponding results. We must therefore turn to alternative hypotheses. If we skip, in parenthesis, to the latter part of the material to be covered in this chapter, and consider the figures obtained in response to the question on reading comics, (Q6), we see that the average ‘comic consumption’ by boys is greater than that by girls. This again does not support the theory put forward above. We must, then, look still further for a possible explanation. Another type of reading matter not yet considered is the magazine. This may provide a part-explanation of the figures, for the responses to Q10 (on preference of types of material), indicate that more girls prefer magazines to other types of reading than do boys. This is not, however, the complete explanation, and it is possible that reference to replies to Q7 may help to explain the situation further. This set of replies shows that a larger proportion of girls than of boys are regular readers of newspapers. Again, although this brings us closer to an explanation, it is not quite the complete solution. This may be provided if we reconsider the implications of the response to Q5. On the surface, this appears to indicate, in conjunction with other results, that boys read faster than girls, since , in less time, they read approximately the same amount of literature (using this term in its most general sense). However, since reading takes up so little of boys’ time (due mainly to the relative importance of more active pursuits), it is possible that reading is done somewhat impatiently, and less thoroughly, than is the case with the girls. This is, at least, a possible hypothesis, and it is further supported by other statistics, as discussed in a later chapter on the selection of reading material.

To move on, then, to consider the less formal types of reading matter – the comics and magazines. Figures show that boys, on average, read more comics than do girls. (Incidentally, the slight discrepancies between the wording of Q6 on the questionnaire and on the results tables and histograms may be explained if it is considered that the majority of comics are issued on a weekly basis. It is probably justifiable to equate ‘regular’ reading with ‘weekly’ reading of such material.) The average ‘consumption’ of comics each week by boys is, by calculation, 3.02, whilst the girls’ answers give a result of 2.51. However, it is possible that the boys’ figures are a little distorted – since 20% of boys who completed forms claimed to read six or more comics regularly. This seems a rather high figure in relation to other results obtained, and it is possible that some of the participants in the survey did not give enough consideration to this question. However, the figures do support the hypothesis that boys are somewhat more impatient readers than girls. Comics, as a general rule, demand less concentration than most other forms of reading material, and so suit readers who prefer material which may be ‘picked up and put down’ with the least possible effect.

It will thus be seen that comics figure largely in the volume of material read by the average boy or girl, though this tendency is not shown to exist to an unconscionable extent. In fact, results of the questionnaire show that more girls prefer illustrated books than prefer comics, though the reverse seems to be the case with the boys who participated in the survey.

Further analysis of the results of the questionnaire indicates that reading volume tends to decrease as the child progresses through the secondary school. This applies particularly to books, but to a lesser extent it also applies to comics. In view of this, it is perhaps reasonable to put forward the theory that children who read a considerable number of books also read a fair amount of more transient material. As is probably to be expected, children in lower streams read less, on the whole, than do the more intelligent members of “A” streams. Comics are most popular with the lower streams, speaking generally, but it is still true to say that reading of both books and periodicals tends to correspond to some extent. Volume of reading would therefore appear to be the important aspect of this question, rather than volume of a particular form of reading material. The low, or negative, correlation which seems to exist between age and volume of reading may possibly be accounted for by the gradually increasing pressure of work through the secondary school, in preparation for examinations etc. Since examinations play a smaller part in the curriculum for the lower streams, it is perhaps to be expected that this tendency would be less apparent in these groups. This does not, however, appear to be the case in the sample tested, possibly due to the lower reading standards of such children, as discussed in an earlier chapter.

One field in which a consistent tendency is shown throughout the school life, at least in the group of children who participated in this survey, is that of newspaper reading. This, in the cases of both boys and girls, showed an increase with age. This is probably due to the growing interest in the world around them exhibited by children in this age-group. Perhaps it is an example of the ‘practical’ instincts of girls, that, on the whole they read newspapers rather more often than to boys. However, the amount of reading concentration applied when reading a newspaper is not tested by this question – a boy or girl who picked up the newspaper merely to follow the adventures of his favourite cartoon character could claim to be a regular reader of the newspaper! It is unlikely, in spite of this, that a child would not notice the major headlines of the paper in finding the cartoon page, and it is to be hoped that occasionally such headlines would provoke further investigation – for the act of reading anything with interest can never produce wholly bad results.

To sum up the points made in this chapter, then, it may be stated:

(1)    That boys and girls read approximately equal volumes of literature, though in the field of comics boys read more than girls;

(2)    that the volume of reading for pleasure decreases with age in the secondary age-range covered;

(3)    that the volume of reading done by lower stream pupils is, on average, less than that of their “A” stream counterparts;

(4)    that the vast majority of school children have some contact with the newspaper; and

(5)    (a hypothesis) that boys prefer literature which lends itself to fairly hurried reading.

Histograms showing responses to questions about about Weekly Reading (Books) and (Comics), and respondents' Preference for Type of Material


 CHAPTER VI – External influences on the selection of reading matter.

 A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good (Samuel Johnson)

If we re-examine the fi dings made in the earlier chapter (III) on leisure activities, we may note that the two activities which (if we consider the combined figures for boys and girls), appear to be most important in the leisure life of the adolescent are “watching television” and “going out with friends”. It is logical to assume that, since these two “activities” play the most important part in the lives of so many adolescents, they would be among the most important influences on other aspects of their lives. In anticipation of this result, questions numbers 12 and 14 were included in the questionnaire. These questions cannot provide conclusive evidence; they can indicate only broad tendencies. This is because they test different and limited aspects of these external influences. Question 12 is intended to examine only the effects produced by the adaptation of books to the medium of the television serial; it does not purport to bring out the total effect of all television programmes on reading habits. Question 14 does not examine the influence on reading as actually exerted by friends’ recommendations, but merely the amount of book recommendation which may take place between freerides. Whether such recommendations are taken up, is a facet of the situation which is not examined here. Ideally, much more searching questions, and a greater number of them, should have been put, but problems were experienced in keeping the questionnaire within reasonable size limits, both for practicability of administration and for analysis of results in the time available.

However, to take first the effect of television, as exemplified in the response to question 12. The majority of both boys and girls who participated in the survey said that they would read books which had been made into serials for television, although the proportion of those who would not is quite high, particularly among the boys. This result again bears out the differing volumes of reading done by boys and by girls. A more interesting tendency comes to light if the figures for each stream are examined individually. Here are the figures, divided as to sex and stream, for the results of this question:

 

Boys

Girls

 

A

B

C

A

B

C

Would read a serialised book

46

34

18

50

44

23

Would not read such a book

31

27

24

26

18

19

 

77

61

42

76

62

42

Percentage who would read serialised book (approximately)

60%

56%

43%

66%

71%

55%

From these figures it may be seen that the tendency is for fewer children from “C” streams to read the books serialised. Again this may be accounted for partly by the fact that “C” stream children read fewer books in any case, but a further contributory factor may be connected with the child’s capacity for imagination. In reading, providing that a high enough ‘mechanical’ standard has been attained, the main task which the mind must perform is that of imagination. The child must be able not only to recognise words and phrases, and to comprehend their individual and collective meanings, but to produce mental images of the subjects under consideration. For example, a child reading a phrase such as ‘a round bowl of pale pink roses’ will need to produce images in his mind of the various parts of the phrase until he is able to combine these into a single mental image of the flowers and their container. This aspect of reading will be discussed in greater detail in the chapter on ‘psychology and reading’, but it will suffice here to point out that the wider the experience and knowledge of a child, the more efficient will be his capacity for mental imagery and hence imagination. Thus not only is the “C” stream child possibly less capable of the ‘mechanical’ processes involved in reading – he may also be deficient in the experience and knowledge on which to base mental imagery and imagination. It may be that the task of imagination is more difficult for such children, and that they are therefore satisfied with a story presented to them ‘in toto’ on a television screen, and feel no need for a reading of the original book to increase their detailed knowledge of the story. The process of imagination is eliminated to a large extent when a story is presented as a play on stage, film, or television, and this is possibly a reason for the less able child to prefer such types of media. To take as an example the phrase used above; whereas in reading the child would need to ‘image’ all the facets of the appearance, size, colour, texture, scent, etc., of the bowl of roses, if such an article were presented on television the number of images which the child would need to produce mentally would be reduced considerably. If the picture were produced in colour, as will soon be the case in television, even less mental imagery would be necessary for the child’s understanding of the subject under consideration.

In general, however, the larger proportion of children appear to like to read books which have been made into serials for television. This may not be due so much to the desire to read as to the desire to know in advance what will happen in the next episode!

We must now move on to consider the other important external influence on book selection mentioned earlier – that of recommendations to, and by, friends. Although the question (14) deals specifically with recommending books to friends, its general implications will probably apply also to the reverse process, since it is likely that one would recommend a book to one’s friend, hoping or expecting him to read it; such hopes or expectations would probably be founded upon one’s own personal reaction to similar recommendations by others. If we examine the results obtained from this question, however, we see that the vast majority (almost 90%) of children participating said that they would recommend a book which they had found enjoyable to a friend. Again, the girls exhibit more interest than the boys in this aspect of their reading habits. One tendency, however, which shows up in both sets of figures, is towards some increase in the numbers of children who would not recommend books to friends, as they progress through the school. This tendency, although not really well-marked, is nevertheless very clearly shown by the figures. It is probably due to the fact that during the early years at secondary school, boys and girls are just in the process of developing from the ’gang’ stage of their social development, with the result that children in this part of the secondary school will tend to ‘stick together’; they will enjoy the same activities and will therefore probably be interested in the same type of books. Recommendations will follow logically. A further factor in the tendency for recommendations to decrease with age is possibly the increase in pressure of work.

These, then, are the main external influences on children’s book selection, although at least one extremely important one has not yet been mentioned – the home. The reading matter of any member of the family will normally be seen also by other close relatives. Thus, for example, an elder brother’s books might figure in a younger child’s selection of reading material – even though this might have the purpose only of appearing ‘grown-up’ in the eyes of friends. This theory may well account for the considerable relative popularity of Ian Fleming among the responses to the ‘favourite author’ question by boys up to the 3rd year in secondary school. It may be significant, in this context, to note that in forms 1 to 3, 13 boys named Ian Fleming as their favourite author, while exactly the same number cited Enid Blyton.

Other influences on the child’s selection of reading material include films, recommendations made on television programmes, in magazines, comics, newspapers, displays in book shops, libraries, current affairs, hobbies etc.

 The main points made in this chapter have been as follows:

(1)    Two of the more important external factors to influence children in their selection of reading material (books in particular) are the programmes produced on television and recommendations by friends.

(2)    Children from lower streams tend, rather more than do others, to be satisfied by watching television serials without wanting to read the books for themselves (possibly due to lack of reading efficiency and/or lack of empirical knowledge on which to base mental imagery).

(3)    A further important influence on the selection of reading material is the variety, type, and volume of literature normally found in the home.

Histogram showing responses to question about Influences on Book Selection

 

CHAPTER VII – The selection of reading matter by the adolescent

Boys read one thing, men another, old men another (Latin proverb)

Having considered the various types of reading matter to which the child has access, and the total volume of reading which normally takes place in the child’s life, it is now time to discuss the type of reading which a child prefers. It was noted in Chapter V that volume of reading for both boys and girls is substantially similar, although the proportion of comics read, particularly by boys was relatively high. In relation to this it is interesting to note that Himmelweit in his Television and the Child (OUP 1958), found that children who had turned away from reading comics in favour of watching television, and who then tired of this occupation, normally turned back for their reading not to comics but to books. One possible explanation is that books are now becoming much more attractive to young people, while comics are remaining fairly static in their mode of presentation and outlook. If we look at the circulation figures for two of the more popular (and better produced) comics Eagle and Girl, we are able to see that between 1953 and 1962 large alterations in circulation took place. Eagle, which had a circulation, in 1953, of approximately 750,000, showed a decrease, by 1962, to only about 412,000. Girl which was selling about ½ million copies in 1953 dropped in circulation to only 276,900 in 1962. Pumphrey, in his What Children think of their Comics (Epworth Press, 1964), suggests that television is the main factor in this decrease in the popularity of comics. Whether or not this is the case, the fact remains that comics still play a most important part in the reading habits of the child. If the present trends continue, however, we may anticipate that this state of affairs will not remain static, and a move towards the more formal types of literature may be in the offing. Indeed, if the figures from the questionnaire (and histograms at the end of Chapter V) are examined, the fact is noticeable that more girls, at any rate, prefer books with pictures to comics. It is possible, however, that the figures for boys and girls regarding comic reading may show less difference if we take into account the greater popularity of magazines among girls than among boys. This is probably due to the fact that the number of women’s magazines published which have an appeal to the schoolgirl is greater than that of men’s magazines with attractions for the schoolboy. Women’s magazines are, in the main, general publications with no technical subject bias – they deal with subjects of interest to most women – while magazines which appeal to men tend to be rather more specialised publications on particular hobbies or occupations. Pumphrey (op.cit.) suggests that boys in the upper part of the secondary school tend to turn for their ‘lighter’ reading to such publications as Reveille, Parade, and similar material. It is perhaps unfortunate that choice of periodicals for boys of this age is so limited as to encourage, indirectly, such reading by teenage boys, for whom it is not designed. However, it would seem that such is at present the case. ‘Pop’ music is an important factor in the adolescent’s choice of periodicals in the upper secondary school, for many of the more popular publications which aim at the teenage girls’ market include ‘pin-up’ pictures of ‘pop’ stars, articles on popular recordings etc., while, according to Pumphrey’s survey, one of the most popular periodicals among 15 year-old grammar school boys is New Musical Express, a publication which deals exclusively with the world of popular music. However, the majority of comics read by boys are those consisting mainly of adventure stories, while romantic stories are preferred by the majority of girls – a preference which seems to persist into adult life. to judge from the bias towards such stories exhibited in the majority of women’s magazines.

We may now turn from comics and periodicals to consider the types of books preferred by adolescent boys and girls. The survey conducted by the writer included a question (Q13), which asked participants to indicate their preference between fiction and non-fiction books. Results of this question show a very clear, though somewhat surprising, trend. While some 75% of girls prefer fiction to non-fiction, 60% of boys apparently prefer non-fiction. In view of earlier findings, this appears slightly paradoxical; in spite of boys’ preference for the more easily read type of ‘literature’ found in comics, when they read books they prefer the apparently ‘heavier’ non-fiction (or, as they were called in the question, ‘books from which you can learn’). However, we must take into account the recent trends in book production and presentation. Non-fiction books are now at least as attractive as fiction to the child – in fact, in many cases it is difficult to distinguish easily the class into which a book falls, without very close examination. Boys normally show a greater interest in matters technical than do girls – model construction, chemical experiments, etc., play an important part in the average boy’s life, and perhaps this is a further reason for the boys’ bias towards non-fiction in his general reading material.

If we return briefly to consider the response to question 10 which examines the types of material preferred by boys and girls of this age, it is noticeable that both boys and girls in “A” stream classes show greater preference toward books. In the first two years, illustrated books are first in the list of popularity among the majority of such pupils, but thereafter the non-illustrated books come into their own. Of course, the selection is not a unanimous one even among “A” stream pupils, but this is the majority choice. The move away from illustrated books in the third and fourth years may be accounted for by the developing need for reading matter to have more ‘meat’, than is the case with books with pictures (which, also, to some extent discourage the full exercise of the imagination).

To turn now to the adolescent’s tastes in fiction. With reference to the questionnaire results, it must first be pointed out that, although an ‘order of preference’ response was requested in question 8, it was found impracticable, in the time available, to take into account the complete answers to the question (since there are 720 possible arrangements of the six subject headings given). The tables and histograms therefore indicate only the number of children placing each type of story in first place. This does not distort the results to any great extent – the ‘total’ order of preference approximates closely to an ‘average’ order obtained from a random sample of completed questionnaires. A further point regarding the questionnaire is that of the omission, among the possible responses to this question, of the ‘romantic’ type of novel which one would expect to be popular with the older girls. It is thought, however, that the possible answers do include six types of story which may have an appeal to both boys and girls.

As is to be expected (in view of the general nature of the terminology employed), ‘adventure’ books come first in the order for both boys and girls, though their relative popularity with girls is slightly less than with boys. This, however, may be due to the ambiguity of the term; in the case of girls, also, the term may probably be used to imply the more romantic type of ‘adventure’ story. Animal stories come next on the list for both boys and girls, though the girls again prefer such stories to a greater extent than do the boys. This is probably due to the undoubted liking which girls have for stories dealing with horses and ponies (as exemplified by the listing by girls among their favourite authors of Pat Smythe, Anna Sewell, Dawn Williams, Ruby Ferguson, Judith M Berrisford, etc. – all writers of books concerned with horses, ponies, gymkhanas, and riding generally. It may be that Black Beauty was prescribed reading for first year classes at one of the schools participating in the survey, for no fewer than nine first year girls named Anna Sewell as their favourite author – a fact which probably has less bearing on the balance of the results than might be supposed). The third type of story preferred shows the first notable variation between the results for boys and those for girls. The girls place careers stories third on the list, while boys place a very small importance on these stories, placing, instead, science fiction third among their overall preferences. Science fiction, in fact, plays a very important part in the boys’ preferences, 16 boys (almost 10% of the participants) naming H G Wells as their favourite author. This may have some bearing on the results of other questions; science fiction, due to its factual content, probably comes nearest to non-fiction in its appeal to the technically-inclined – and boys appear to prefer non-fiction material in general; science fiction stories are often presented in short story form – a form which would lend itself to the less deliberate reading methods of boys, as hinted at in Chapter V. The relative importance of careers stories in the reading of girls compared with boys is, at first sight, difficult to explain. However, if we consider the type of book which is produced as a careers book, it becomes easier to account for the apparent anomaly. The type of material referred to is that of the “Cherry Ames, ... nurse” variety. Such books (these particular ones are by either Helen Wells or Julie Tatham), appear to deal with nursing of various types as a career – however, on closer examination, it may be seen that they are mainly the romantic-adventure type of story in a somewhat different setting. This is not to decry such literature, but merely to point out the reasons for its appeal. More careers books of this type are published than of the more factual type which would appeal to boys – perhaps this is a contributory factor in the boys’ general dislike of such books. The next type of story in order of popularity among boys is the historical story. This is probably due to a bias toward the historical adventure story (e.g. Treasure Island) in school English literature lessons designed to appeal to boys (5% of boys participating in the survey named Robert Louis Stevenson as their favourite author). Fourth place in the girls’ list is given to school stories; it seems rather surprising that such stories appear so low down on the popularity lists (they occur fifth on the boys’ list, followed only by careers stories). This unpopularity is probably due to their somewhat outdated outlook. With the increase in social mobility, the public schools and private preparatory schools (about which most of the school stories are written) have become accessible to many more children – there remains little of the old ‘mystique’ about such schools these days. Today’s children would probably prefer to read about the more down-to-earth atmosphere in, say, a modern comprehensive school – at least the terminology used would be easier for them to understand.

If we turn now to consider briefly the authors named in response to question 9, we see that the overall favourite author is Enid Blyton. This is particularly the case in the lower school, though her popularity continues, at a slightly lower level, into the upper school classes also. This author is more popular with girls than with boys, though in the next chapter, on psychology and reading, this author’s influence will be considered in greater detail. The popularity of Ian Fleming among boys has already been mentioned, together with possible reasons, but the apparent popularity, especially among the boys, of Charles Dickens calls for some comment. Many of the boys (and girls) purporting to prefer Dickens were unable to spell his name correctly, a fact which prompts the suggestion that his name was listed only because none other sprang easily to mind. It is difficult to believe that 35 boys and girls actually prefer this author’s books, especially since many of this number were from “C” stream classes. The explanation suggested above seems to be the more likely, particularly in view of the large proportion of participants who left blank the space for response to question 9, or wrote down, usually almost illegibly, the name of some wildly improbable, or even fictitious author. 133 boys named particular authors legibly, while the number of girls to name specific authors was 149. In view of this fact, it is significant that the number of different authors named by boys was 45, while only 38 were named by girls. This points to a broader outlook – a willingness to experiment with new authors – or perhaps a more fertile imagination(!) – on the part of boys. It is significant that several boys named authors of nonfiction books only; one boy actually named Fred Reinfeld as his favourite author (this writer confines himself to books on chess), while others named Peter Scott and Bobby Moore. The more traditional authors of children’s books, like Arthur Ransome, Richmal Crompton, Capt W E Johns, Anthony Buckeridge, and others, seem to be becoming somewhat more neglected these days – possibly due to the fact that their books were written some time ago in most cases. However, there seem to be few new authors of books specifically for children to take the place of these writers. It is noticeable that so many adolescents turn to adult-type literature for their reading. This trend is, of course, only to be expected to some extent in view of the earlier maturity of today’s youth. It would, however, seem that a gap exists in the field of reading matter suitable for this age group. This gap is filled neither by the older type of ‘children’s’ author, nor by the authors of books for adult readers. It would appear that a great opportunity exists for publishers and authors to show some enterprise and to supply, or attempt to supply, books which would appeal to the present more mature outlook of the adolescent, while still bearing in mind their need for greater insight into the adult life before they are thrust into it, either in books or in fact.

 A brief note to close this chapter: In Curtis and Boultwood’s A Short History of Educational Ideas (1961), it is stated that Plato cited three types of literary form which should appeal to older children: (1) That which is wholly imitative (i.e. where authors employ direct speech – e.g. DRAMA); (2) That which uses indirect speech (i.e. NARRATIVE and LOGIC); (3) That which combines both these forms (i.e. EPIC). It may be profitable to compare this with a statement made by Cauter, in his book Home, School, and Work – a study of the education and employment of young people in Britain” (Pergamon Press, 1962), after a survey based on a random selection of 200 children from five secondary schools in Sheffield: “Only a handful of boys and girls read books at all.”

Histogram showing responses to question about Preference of Subject (Fiction)


CHAPTER VIII – Psychology and reading

Everything’s got a moral if only you can find it. (Lewis Carroll – ‘Alice in Wonderland’)

It is proposed in this chapter to deal with effects, mostly the psychological ones, which selection of reading material may produce in children, and to discuss the reverse process, whereby psychological considerations may affect reading habits.

Lovell (Educational Psychology and children, University of London Press, 8th ed. 1965), in his chapter on the personal development of children, while discussing reading, mentions that “little direct evidence has been reported of the desirable effects of good reading matter”, though he gives his personal opinion that such literature may benefit the child. However, he points out that many psychologists stress the evil effects of bad literature. Such had been the case for centuries, for about 250BC Callimachus wrote “a great book is a great evil”, while Plato is said to have insisted upon a censorship of the stories told to Greek children at early stages of their education. This censorship was inspired by the works of Hesiod and others, whose works, while aesthetically acceptable, presented views which could not be accepted or endorsed by Plato. Such works gave accounts of the gods participating in intrigue, deception and fighting, while Plato maintained that one of the prime essentials in educating young children is that a correct attitude towards religion should be fostered. He held that God should be presented as a being supremely good and true, while Hesiod, in his Theogony presented God as one capable of change and deceit. Similar opinions existed concerning stories dealing with great heroes, and with the souls of the departed. Plato believed that such stories should encourage imitation of the heroes, and should not depict cowardly, undisciplined, or immoral behaviour. In Curtis and Boultwood’s A short history of educational ideas (3rd edition, 1961), it is stated that Plato “believed that literature is a most potent factor in the formation of character because the individual will always tend to imitate the actions of the characters he admires.”

Such censorship as was imposed by the Greeks, therefore, dealt with complete works or stories. Modern censors, however, in many cases, hold that a book may be judged in terms of isolated passages, rather than in its entirety (by the removal of short passages containing offensive language). This is probably not a particularly effective method from a psychological standpoint (bad language, etc., is normally transmitted by word of mouth, in any case), since, as Plato pointed out, it is the imitation or attempted imitation of persons or groups presented as heroes which is one of the more important effects of reading on the child. If such heroes are presented as having good characters, a child who attempts to emulate them will tend towards development of similar traits, while a hero of violent or sadistic tendencies is likely to produce similar attitudes in his followers and imitators. This is not to advocate that in all children’s books the heroes should be presented as ‘goody-goody’’ characters, since few children would be inspired to read such material. However, heroes who show by word and action that they possess high moral principles, and that they are able to stand by them will be more likely to have beneficial effects upon such children as become their devotees.

Richard McKeon and his associates, in their book The freedom to read – perspective and program (New York, 1957) point out, moreover, that experiments have suggested that readers who perceive pornography in allegedly objectionable books also search out, and find, similar meanings in books which appear innocuous. The only way, they believe, to prevent such people being so affected is to stop them reading altogether. It is probable that such a process takes place in maladjusted adolescents, and the way to treat such children is probably not by curtailing, or prohibiting, their reading, but by providing some psychological treatment to allow more complete adjustment, together with a carefully selected range of reading material.

Probably the material which produces the largest amount of ill-effect among children is the (usually, though not invariably, American) comic which stresses aspects of crime, sex, and violence. There are, however, few such productions, and their number is decreasing, but Lovell (op. cit.) points out that constant reading of such unpleasant material is likely to produce an ill-effect on some children (many, of course, will probably be but little affected by such literature). It has been said by some, in defence of this type of material, that it has a cathartic effect, but it is more likely to produce the wrong type of effect than this one, and, as implied above, in the case of maladjusted children such literature can have few desirable effects.

In the field of hero-worship, a further point must be emphasised. It was mentioned that Plato’s condemnation of Hesiod’s writings was due not only to its ‘subversive’ content, but also to its aesthetic appeal. This is an important facet of the situation, for books which are especially well-written command greater attention and concentration from their readers. Any attempted emulation of the heroes of such books will therefore tend to be more closely carried out, with the result that the less desirable as well as the good points of the hero’s character, as exemplified by the story, will be more closely copied.

We may now consider the effects of selection of various types of books upon the adolescent, together with the psychological or other reasons for such selections. If we examine the results of the questionnaire to discover the most popular author cited by participants in their responses to question 9, we find that this author is Enid Blyton. This writer has produced phenomenal amounts of literature designed for children of various ages, ranging from the Noddy series for very young children, through the Secret Seven stories, to the Famous Five adventures, which are most popular with children between the ages of 10 and 12 years, and even older children in some instances. Many other separate titles, and several other series, of lesser importance, have been written by this author, in addition to those named above, but these appear the most popular. A criticism which has been levelled at this writer mainly concerns the books written for the older children’s market. Such books, say the critics (among whom are teachers, librarians, and others), by their content appeal to children of 11 years old and upwards, while the extent of the vocabulary used is that more suited to, say, nine-year-olds. Children of 12 to 13 years who read, for example, the Famous Five books, although capable of comprehending much greater vocabulary ranges, choose such books because by their story content they provide the correct type of appeal. The criticism made of this author is that by her books she is inhibiting the child in the development of a more extensive range of expression. This may be so, but, on the other hand, by publication of such books, the writer is appealing to those children of secondary school age whose attainment age in reading is still within the junior school range. Such children are naturally not disposed to read the type of book which lies within their reading capabilities, since such books are, rightly at such an age, considered ‘babyish’. They may well, therefore, give up any further serious attempt at reading anything. This is surely not a good thing – as Pliny wrote: “No book is so bad but benefit may be derived from some part of it.” It must be an object of writers and teachers to encourage more widespread reading, of any type; while no good can come from the non-provision of books suitable for certain classes or groups of children, little that is bad can come from more capable children reading somewhat below their capacity – providing that such reading is performed in moderation.

To sum up the points made in this chapters (1) Reading can have psychological effects upon children. Such effects, it has been established by many observers, may be bad ones, caused by unsuitable reading, or, it is surmised, can be good ones from the reading of well-written books by authors who fully understand their responsibility towards their readers. (2) The main reason for any psychological or other effects being produced by reading is that children attempt to identify themselves with their heroes. (3) A few comic-type publications can have very bad effects, particularly upon maladjusted children, who might, however, also be affected by other, seemingly-innocuous material. (4) Although it is preferable that reading should help to extend the vocabulary of a child, bocks purporting to do this should not be produced to the exclusion of books which might provide reading matter suitable for less able children – it is more important that children be encouraged to read than that they be presented with material demanding a standard of reading higher than that of which they are capable, and which might discourage any further attempts at reading.

 

CHAPTER IX – Books as sources of information

Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves  or we know where to find information upon it. (Samuel Johnson)

In these days, when so much more use is being made of the ‘project’ approach in schools, the supplying of information to children in as accessible a form as possible is growing in importance. This is the reason for which question 11 was included on the questionnaire. Various hypotheses may be formed on studying the responses to this question. The first and most obvious fact which may be noticed from examination of the figures is that, although the school library is the most popular source of information with both boys and girls, the remaining figures show much greater difference. The second source among the boys is the home, with the public library figuring relatively low on the list, while girls chose the public library as their second most important source. Tt is noticeable that almost the same number of girls preferred the public library as did the school library, while books from home sources provided the least-used source of information.

This may be bound up with the boys’ overall preference for non-fiction. Obviously, the more popularity enjoyed by non-fiction books in general reading, the more likely it is that such books will be purchased and will hence be available at home. Therefore, the girls, most of whom prefer fiction to non-fiction would here be at a disadvantage. This may partly account for the trend exhibited by these figures, though a further important trend is shown by the overwhelming majority of boys who favoured first the school library – almost 50% of those participating, while in the case of girls a figure of just over 40% was produced. This could imply that the boys are less inclined to take the trouble of visiting their public library (where it is probable that more detailed information would be available – from reference works – than in the school library), than girls; or, on the other hand, perhaps girls leave their researches too late and have to rush to the public library for information since all the relevant books have already been borrowed from the school library by the boys. This type of hypothesis can produce no conclusive results; the main conclusion to be drawn from the response to the question is that by far the most popular source of information for work connected with projects (or, we may assume, any branch of school work), is the school library, while the public library also plays a considerable part. Boys, who, it was noted earlier, prefer non-fiction as general reading, tend apparently, to have a reasonable stock of such books at home on which they may draw for information.

Histogram showing responses to question about Books as Sources of Information (includes general preference between fiction and non-fiction)


 CHAPTER X – Children and libraries

We call ourselves a rich nation, and we are filthy and foolish enough to thumb each other’s books out of circulating libraries! (John Ruskin)

1. Use of libraries. (a) School library

It was seen in the previous chapter that libraries, both school and public institutions, play an important role in the adolescent’s search for information. It is proposed here to discuss the use made of libraries by children for recreational purposes. First let us consider the school library. Question 2 on the questionnaire was intended to examine the use made of the school library by children. Such use is, of course concerned not only with recreational reading, but includes use made of the library for study purposes. The figures may, however, indicate general trends. The total figures for boys are generally similar to those results obtained from the girls, although the number of girls who regularly use the school library is slightly higher than that of the boys. Since it has been noted that girls tend to read more than boys, this is apparently not surprising, but in the previous chapter it was pointed out that boys use the school library as a source of information more often than do girls. This would indicate that the amount of recreational reading done by girls outweighs the combined amounts of recreational and study reading done by boys. This theory is also supported by the figures given in response to questions on volumes of reading. The figures for this question are fairly conclusive in showing in showing that the majority of both boys and girls regularly use the school library, though one interesting, if irrelevant, trend is shown if the figures are examined closely. If the boys’ and girls’ response figures are added together, in only three classes is a majority shown against the regular use of the school library (a trend also shown in the individual tables) – 3B, 3C, and 4A. This appears inexplicable without much closer research.

1.(b) Public Library

Two questions on the questionnaire deal with this source of reading matter – questions 3 and 4. 3 examines the popularity among children of membership of the public library. A majority of both boys and girls are members of their public libraries, though again fewer boys show an interest in membership than do girls. Slightly fewer children are members of public libraries than use the school library, though in view of the easier accessibility of the latter this is not surprising. In tabulating the results of question 4, non-members of the library were assumed to have visited the library less often than once per fortnight, an assumption which seems justified. The results show, as might be expected, that boys, on the whole, make less use of the public library than do girls, though a slightly higher percentage of boy library members visit the library more than once weekly (14.7% of boy members, as opposed to 11.2% of girl members). This, although a small difference, does indicate again that boys tend to read books more quickly. In view of the high proportions of both boys and girls who, although members, use the public library less than once per fortnight, it would appear that libraries make considerable profits by overdue book fines!

2. The function and organisation of school libraries

Probably the most important single function of the school library is in the field of information. Such a library should act as the centre for information on all aspects of the curriculum, so that both pupils and teachers may draw upon the literature available. A secondary, but still important, function of the school library is in providing for the children adequate stocks of recreational reading of all types, including periodicals. In 1928, the Board of Education, as it then was, published a Memorandum on Libraries in State-aided Secondary Schools. In this, the following words are used to describe the library in the secondary grammar schools: – “An indispensable part of every secondary school”. RG Ralph, in his book The library in Education (rev. ed. 1960), points out that the provision of libraries in schools did not come up to the ideal of this recommendation, and by 1948 this country was more than twenty years behind the USA in this field of secondary education. In 1945, the Ministry of Education published a set of Regulations prescribing the standards for School Premises. It was laid down here that every secondary school must possess library accommodation. As a result, libraries in schools have become increasingly more common, but standards of provision vary considerably. Ralph (op.cit.) states that the library should be “considered as part of the educational system”.

Regarding organisation of the library, it is advisable that the first step in the process of building up a stock of books – book selection – should be treated with the utmost caution. Since Local Education Authorities are able to provide only limited funds for the upkeep of school libraries (since these form only a small part of total school expenditure), it is important that such money as is available should be spent as wisely as possible. In some schools a system operates whereby books are chosen by a committee formed of both members of staff and pupils. In certain aspects this is an admirable idea, but it should be employed with care, or bias in certain directions may result if such methods are used indiscriminately. If such a committee is formed, some type of veto must be among the powers of the school librarian. Such a system allows for subject specialists, who will be most up-to-date in their knowledge of books on their particular subject, to suggest books suitable for use in conjunction with courses in operation, while children may make valuable suggestions for improving the stock, particularly on the fiction side.

While we are considering this point, we may mention the qualifications required in a school librarian. It is not really advisable, as is the practice in many secondary schools, to make the Head of the English Department automatically responsible for the school library, solely on the basis of his literary experience, useful as such knowledge is in book selection and other aspects of the work. A considerable part of the work of a school librarian is in the field of organisation and administration, and while it is not in doubt that teachers with literary qualifications would be capable of developing some skill in this aspect of his work, it is doubtful whether his performance in this field would be of as high a standard as that of a person either qualified or experienced in librarianship as such. A further possibility, if a person with library experience were appointed, is that co-operation between school and public library could be made easier (since a professionally-qualified librarian in the public service might prefer to deal with a person similarly qualified). However, such a statement is purely a hypothesis. It is, in spite of this, unlikely that a teacher who is responsible for any other Department in the school will have sufficient time to run the school library efficiently in addition to his other responsibilities. In a large secondary, or comprehensive school, it is essential, of course, that a person solely responsible for the library be appointed – such a procedure is standard in colleges and universities, and there seems no reason why schools should be in a different category.

As regards the day-to day running of the library in school, it is preferable that the pupils should play a considerable part in the routine of library administration, with library prefects and monitors to attend to “non-professional’ duties. If we turn now to consider the general organisation within the library: This should be run along the same lines as a public library, as far as is possible. A classification scheme should be adopted which, while being simple, is similar to that in use at the local public library, in order that pupils may understand and transfer between both systems with the minimum of confusion. If the Dewey Decimal system is adopted, it would be a source of confusion if the various conventions, which must be used from time-to-time even in this most widely-used system, differed between school and public library (see note in Glossary). Many school and public libraries use, for fiction works, a type of classification whereby books with stories based on various types of subject are grouped together in separate sections for each subject. It is probably a better idea for school libraries, if fiction is shelved in one alphabetical sequence of authors’ surnames, so that children, in addition to recognising authors’ names, may be encouraged to read more widely by seeing various types of books on the shelves in addition to books on the subjects which particularly interest them. Regarding a cataloguing system, this, too, should be along the lines of a public library system, so that children may become used to handling the mechanical side of the catalogue, and may develop the facility of evaluating a book form its catalogue entry – a facility useful in later life if any study is undertaken. The actual arrangement of the catalogue can cause problems, since both methods – the ‘classified’ and ‘dictionary’ arrangements (see Glossary), have points in their favour. Here is a point where it would perhaps be a good idea to use the other method from that used in the local public library, so that children may understand both types. Regarding charging (q.v.) methods, etc.; these should be a matter for the librarian to decide, since so many variable factors may come into the situation. Suffice it here to say that the method adopted should be a business-like one (rather than a ‘homemade’ system which in all probability will either break down under stress or at least may require non-standard stationery), which allows for easy charging and discharging (since busy periods, like lunch-hours, could result in hold-ups), and which is capable of expansion.

3. Co-operation between school and public libraries

This subject has been mentioned already in this chapter. Ideally, there should be a high degree of liaison between school and public library authorities. If a project is planned by any teacher at the school, he should establish with the school librarian that either the school library or the public library should be able to supply the necessary books. This would involve co-operation between the authorities, but would avoid the problem of children arriving at the public library to find that all books on the project subject were on issue. If the public library staff had been warned of the imminent project, also, they would be better prepared to assist the school children.

Visits to the school by members of the public library staff in order to explain the facilities offered by the library nan also do much to assist the interchange of ideas and information between the two sets of authorities. In this way the child can become conscious of sources of reading and information of which he might otherwise have remained unaware. Such visits might well be followed up by conducted tours of the public library by groups of children, with explanations from the staff. Also, a school librarian, if lacking in experience in any aspect of the library, might profitably consult with the staff of the public library, and this again could help in the move toward uniformity. A financial saving might also be effected by the school’s co-operating with public library authorities, for specialised and expensive books may be obtained through the local library’s RLB system (q.v.), and issued to the school on extended loan, saving the school expenditure on books which might be needed by only a few specialist students for only a relatively short time. In the case of County, or County Borough authorities, any co-operation is eased by the fact that both school and library are administered by the same authority – in some cases by the same Committee.

4. Provision for special groups

As was stated in an earlier chapter, a special problem is posed in non-selective secondary schools by backward readers of secondary school age, in view of the scarcity of suitable material to encourage their desire to read. Such material is, however, available, though in small quantities at present. Cooperation between the teachers dealing with backward children and the school librarian is indicated here, since the librarian would be in a position to provide material of the required simple standard upon subjects in which individual children showed particular interest.

Other special groups include out-of-school groups and societies (e.g. choirs and play reading groups) which might require multiple copies of music or books for performance, etc. Such sets of copies can be obtained from, or through, the local public library. If the public library includes a record or illustrations collection, this can be used to good effect by schools in the locality to tater for various groups, or even for intermittent class use.

5. Final comments on library provision

In view of the importance of libraries as sources of reading matter for children, it is proposed to conclude this chapter by considering ways in which both school and public libraries may play greater parts in the reading life of the adolescent.

As stated above, the school library is best considered first as a source of information. Children should be encouraged to use the library as a matter of course whenever any point arises to which he is unable immediately to supply the answer. Habit or repetition is one of the more important factors in a child’s perception, and only in this way can children be made conscious of the part which books can play in their lives. Instruction should be given in the use of the library, and this may be developed by issuing children with various questions, the answers to which they are to supply from sources of information, books or magazines, fiction or non-fiction, in the library. Such instruction and experiment may be followed up by talks and visits to the local public library, where different and more advanced books will be available to answer a wider variety of questions.

The school library should be opened at all reasonable times before and after school and during lunch breaks, and ideally should be vacant during lesson time to allow children to use the facilities for quiet private study. Most of the day-to-day running should be entrusted to responsible prefects who have been trained in the normal routine, but the school librarian should always be fairly easily accessible to help with any difficult queries and deal with awkward problems. Regarding the borrowing of books, obviously numbers of books allowed, and other rules, will depend upon local circumstances, but such rules should be as flexible as possible within reason. A good idea from certain viewpoints is a ‘reading diary’, as used at many schools. In these diaries, the children are expected to enter details of books read and to add their comments on these books. The only possible disadvantage of such an idea is that children might tend to read less than their actual requirements if too much work is involved afterwards. Such methods should therefore be adopted after complete consideration of such implications.

Periodicals of the better type, together with newspapers, should be taken in the school library, so that children may become acquainted with such publications. Children should be encouraged to discuss their reading with other children and with teachers, and perhaps such discussion could take place during library periods or English lessons.

Histograms showing responses to question about Use of Libraries


CHAPTER XI – Conclusion

The main conclusion to be drawn from this study is that generally speaking, children in secondary schools tend to read less that they might, due to various influences. Boys appear to read fewer books, but more comics, than girls, possible due to more ‘slipshod’ reading methods. Many children entering secondary school have not reached a high enough standard in reading to allow their reading to become a pleasurable activity. The three main influences acting upon children in their book selection are television, the home, and friends’ recommendations. Boys prefer non-fiction, while with girls the opposite is true. Psychological effects, both good and bad, may result from reading various types of literature. The most important sources of information and reading matter open to the child are school and public libraries.

The main task of the educator in this field, therefore, is to bring children into contact with books at every available opportunity, and to encourage the wider reading of any material for pleasure. He must also make sure that material suited to any particular child is available. Only thus will the reading standards and taste of today’s secondary school children be improved. Let Thomas de Quincey have the last word – the quotation is from Letters to a young man, and sums up the purposes to which reading should be puts a wide range of reading is indicated:

Books, we are told, propose to instruct or to amuse. Indeed! ...  The true antithesis to knowledge, in this case, is not pleasure, but power. All that is literature seeks to communicate power; all that is not literature, to communicate knowledge.


APPENDIX I – Glossary of terms used

 

Chapter II

MENTAL AGE      A convention whereby the mental ability or intelligence of a person may be expressed in terms of chronological age. Figures are obtained by the administration of intelligence tests standardised to the average ability of persons of given age. A test is placed at an age level at which it is passed by 75% of participants.

IQ      Intelligence Quotient. The ratio of a person’s Mental Age to his Chronological Age, expressed as a percentage. Thus, a person with a mental age of 9 and a chronological age of 10 has an IQ of 95.

ATTAINMENT AGE      A convention on the same lines as Mental Age, but based on tests of attainment in particular subjects. Hence READING AGE.

MOTIVATION      An internal process in the person under consideration, which, having been initiated by some need, leads to a course of action, mental or physical, whereby this need may be satisfied. Needs may be of various types.

 

Chapter X

DEWEY DECIMAL SYSTEM      A classification of knowledge with a numerical system of notation involving 3 digits before a decimal point and any number of digits thereafter. It is named after the formulator, Melvil Dewey. Since it was designed during the 19th century, modifications have become necessary in view of more advanced technology and enlightened opinions of classification. Such modifications are superficial, but may result in variation in arrangements of books classified under the scheme.

CATALOGUES, DICTIONARY and CLASSIFIED  A catalogue is a complete list of the stock held by a library. Physical form may vary, but the most common form in use employs 5” x 3” cards stored in drawers. A dictionary catalogue has entries (i.e. cards) for books, which are headed (a) by the author’s surname;(b) by the subject dealt with in the case of non-fiction books;(c) by the title (esp. in the case of fiction). Thus a non-fiction book will normally have three or more cards, each headed by a word (a book may deal with more than one subject, or have more than one author). The cards for each book in stock are arranged in one alphabetical sequence. A classified catalogue is in three separate parts (or two at least). One part contains author entries for each book in stock, the second contains entries headed by the classification numbers of books. A third may contain a subject index referring the user from the name of a subject to its classification number. If a classified catalogue is used for non-fiction, a dictionary type system is used for fiction.

CHARGING:      The issuing of a book on loan to a reader, and the recording of particulars of the book, reader’s name, date of issue, date when return is due, etc. Many systems are in use, all with various advantages and disadvantages. The most commonly used type in smaller public libraries is one devised by Browne, while systems employed in school and college libraries vary over a much wider range.

RLB      Regional Library Bureau. A centre where records of stocks of public and special libraries are held. This is employed in dealing with interlibrary loans. There are several regions in the country, each with its own RLB. If a book is not available from sources within a region, requests may be passed on the National Central Library, in London, which has wider resources on which to draw.


APPENDIX II – The Questionnaire

The questionnaire mentioned in the text of this study and of which a copy is to be seen on the next page, was circulated to three schools, involving 360 children in all.

The schools circulated were: Polesworth High School (a Warwickshire High School); Wilnecote High School (also originally a Warwickshire High School, but which is in the process of conversion to the Staffordshire Comprehensive plan – due to a boundary change); Great Barr Comprehensive School, Birmingham.

Regarding the streaming methods used – since all three schools employed different systems, it was decided to standardise on three general streams into which the children participating could be divided. It is important to note that none of the streams which participated were ‘grammar school’ streams, and so the field covered is that of children in non-selective schools. “A” stream pupils are those of above average intelligence for the schools in question; “B” streams are average; while “C” streams are below average intelligence.

Scanned copy of the original questionnaire


APPENDIX – Tabulated Results of Questionnaire: Boys 

Name of Form and Stream:

1A

1B

1C

2A

2B

2C

3A

3B

3C

4A

4B

4C

Total (%)

No. boys who completed forms:

20

11

14

14

19

5

22

19

7

21

12

6

180 (100)

Q1 Weekly Reading (Books)

Less than 1

1

1

5

2

5

1

7

9

4

14

6

4

59 (32.9)

1

2

3

5

6

8

3

7

6

7

6

6

1

60 (33.4)

2

13

2

2

3

2

1

4

3

4

1

-

1

36 (20.0)

3

4

4

1

3

3

-

1

-

1

-

-

-

19 (9.4)

4

-

1

-

-

-

-

1

1

1

-

-

-

4 (2.2)

5

-

-

1

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1 (0.5)

6 or more

-

-

-

-

1

-

2

-

-

-

-

-

3 (1.6)

Q2 Regular use of School Library

Yes

16

10

6

12

15

5

13

9

8

10

7

5

116 (64.4)

No

4

1

8

2

4

-

9

10

9

11

5

1

64 (35.6)

Q3 Members of Public Library

Yes

13

4

5

12

10

3

15

12

6

10

7

5

102 (56.6)

No

7

7

9

2

9

2

7

7

11

11

5

1

78 (43.4)

Q4 Use of Public Library

Once or more weekly

1

2

3

1

1

-

4

2

-

1

-

-

15 (8.3)

weekly

4

-

-

3

3

2

6

4

2

1

1

2

28 (15.6)

fortnightly

8

2

1

6

6

1

3

2

3

4

5

2

43 (23.9)

less often

7

7

10

4

9

2

9

11

12

15

6

2

94 (52.2)

Q5 Leisure Activities

Sport

6

2

4

6

11

4

4

8

4

8

4

3

64 (35.5)

TV

6

3

5

4

2

-

8

6

6

7

3

1

51 (28.3)

Housework

1

2

2

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

-

-

6 (3.3)

Reading

1

-

-

1

2

-

2

1

-

-

-

-

7 (3.9)

Friends

6

4

3

3

4

1

8

3

7

6

5

2

52 (28.9)

Q6 Weekly Reading (Comics)

None

-

-

1

2

1

-

3

2

2

7

-

1

19 (10.5)

1

3

2

2

1

2

1

3

6

-

2

3

1

26 (14.4)

2

4

4

-

5

4

2

6

-

5

5

4

-

39 (21.7)

3

5

2

1

2

3

1

1

3

4

3

1

-

26 (14.4)

4

4

1

3

2

3

-

3

1

3

2

1

-

23 (12.8)

5

-

1

2

-

1

1

-

3

-

-

2

1

11 (6.1)

6 or more

4

1

5

2

5

-

6

4

3

2

1

3

36 (20.0)

Q7 Regular Readers of Newspapers

Yes

18

5

10

13

11

5

20

17

14

20

9

6

148 (82.2)

No

2

6

4

1

8

-

2

2

3

1

3

-

32 (17.8)

Q8 Subject Preference

Adventure

10

3

5

5

9

4

10

10

6

8

8

2

80 (44.4)

Animal

6

4

7

4

4

-

2

1

3

2

1

3

37 (20.5)

Careers

-

-

-

1

-

1

-

-

-

-

-

-

2 (1.1)

Historical

2

3

1

1

4

-

1

3

2

2

2

-

21 (11.7)

School

-

1

1

-

1

-

1

1

2

-

-

-

7 (3.9)

Science Fiction

2

-

-

3

1

-

8

4

4

9

1

1

33 (18.3)

Q10 Type of Material Preferred

non-illustrated books

5

3

2

6

3

2

7

1

2

8

2

1

42 (23.3)

comics

5

3

7

4

10

2

6

10

13

2

4

4

70 (38.9)

Illustrated booked

9

5

5

4

5

-

6

6

1

4

5

1

51 (28.3)

magazines

1

-

-

-

1

1

3

2

1

7

1

-

17 (9.4)

Q11 First Source of Information

Home

6

2

3

3

9

-

9

5

7

4

1

2

51 (28.3)

School Library

10

6

8

7

8

3

5

7

9

13

9

3

88 (48.9)

Public Library

4

3

3

4

2

2

8

7

1

4

2

1

41 (22/8)

Q12 Influence of TV serials of books

Would read book

18

9

4

8

13

4

11

8

9

9

4

1

98 (54.4)

Wold not read it

2

2

10

6

6

1

11

11

8

12

8

5

82 (45.6)

Q13 Type of Book Preferred

Non-fiction

13

9

11

8

8

3

12

8

9

15

6

5

107 (59.4)

Fiction

7

2

3

6

11

2

10

11

8

6

6

1

73 (40.6)

Q14 Books Recommended to Friends

Yes

19

11

11

13

17

4

20

13

16

16

10

6

156 (86.7)

No

1

-

3

1

2

1

2

6

1

5

2

-

24 (13.3)

 

APPENDIX – Tabulated Results of Questionnaire: Girls 

Name of Form and Stream:

1A

1B

1C

2A

2B

2C

3A

3B

3C

4A

4B

4C

Total (%)

No. girls who completed forms:

20

11

10

13

20

5

22

18

19

21

13

8

180 (100)

Q1 Weekly Reading (Books)

Less than 1

4

2

1

1

4

2

4

8

10

11

9

5

61 (33.9)

1

6

5

7

2

9

1

8

5

4

8

2

2

59 (32.9)

2

8

2

1

6

2

2

2

2

3

1

1

1

31 (17.2)

3

1

2

-

2

3

-

5

2

2

1

1

-

19 (10.5)

4

1

-

1

1

-

-

2

1

-

-

-

-

6 (3.3)

5

-

-

-

1

1

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

2 (1.1)

6 or more

-

-

-

-

1

-

1

-

-

-

-

-

2 (1.1)

Q2 Regular use of School Library

Yes

19

9

6

13

16

4

17

8

8

10

9

6

125 (69.4)

No

1

2

4

-

4

1

5

10

11

11

4

2

55 (30.6)

Q3 Members of Public Library

Yes

16

6

5

8

14

3

18

12

9

18

5

2

116 (64.4)

No

4

5

5

5

6

2

4

6

10

3

8

6

34 (35.6)

Q4 Use of Public Library

Once or more weekly

1

3

1

1

-

2

2

-

1

-

2

-

13 (7.2)

weekly

5

4

4

2

8

1

4

4

3

6

1

-

42 (23.3)

fortnightly

10

2

-

4

4

-

8

5

4

7

-

2

46 (25.5)

less often

4

2

5

6

8

2

8

9

11

8

10

6

79 (44.0)

Q5 Leisure Activities

Sport

3

5

-

2

1

-

4

-

1

3

1

1

21 (11.7)

TV

6

1

3

5

9

1

2

7

8

7

1

2

52 (28.9)

Housework

3

2

6

2

1

2

4

4

3

3

5

2

37 (20.5)

Reading

6

-

1

2

2

1

2

4

-

2

1

-

21 (11.7)

Friends

2

3

-

2

7

1

10

3

7

6

5

3

49 (27.2)

Q6 Weekly Reading (Comics)

None

-

-

-1

-

3

-

-

3

4

1

2

3

17 (9.4)

1

4

5

2

2

2

1

6

3

2

3

4

1

35 (19.4)

2

8

3

3

8

4

3

3

1

5

10

3

-

51 (28.3)

3

5

1

2

1

3

1

5

4

4

3

3

1

33 (18.3)

4

1

2

1

-

-

-

6

2

2

2

-

2

18 (10.0)

5

1

-

-

-

3

-

2

1

2

-

1

1

11 (6.1)

6 or more

1

-

1

2

5

-

-

4

-

2

-

-

15 (8.3)

Q7 Regular Readers of Newspapers

Yes

16

9

7

11

16

5

22

16

17

0

11

6

156 (86.7)

No

4

2

3

2

4

1

-

2

2

1

2

2

24 (13.3)

Q8 Subject Preference

Adventure

12

5

4

8

16

3

10

9

7

8

6

5

93 (51.7)

Animal

2

6

5

4

1

2

6

4

7

2

3

2

44 (24.4)

Careers

1

-

-

-

1

-

2

2

2

5

2

-

15 (8.3)

Historical

1

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

1

2

2

-

17 (3.9)

School

3

-

1

-

2

-

3

1

1

1

-

-

12 (6.7)

Science Fiction

1

-

-

1

-

-

1

1

1

3

-

1

9 (5.0)

Q10 Type of Material Preferred

non-illustrated books

7

2

-

4

6

1

7

4

2

8

3

-

44 (24.4)

comics

2

6

5

2

8

2

2

8

10

2

3

2

52 (28.9)

Illustrated booked

9

2

5

7

5

2

6

6

6

4

5

4

61 (33.9)

magazines

2

1

-

-

1

-

7

-

1

7

2

2

23 (12.8)

Q11 First Source of Information

Home

2

1

3

3

4

1

9

4

2

3

4

2

38 (21.1)

School Library

10

6

3

3

7

3

6

6

12

5

7

5

73 (40.5)

Public Library

8

4

4

7

9

1

7

8

5

13

2

1

69 (38.3)

Q12 Influence of TV serials of books

Would read book

14

10

3

12

18

5

15

9

14

9

7

1

117 (65.0)

Wold not read it

6

1

7

1

2

-

7

9

5

12

6

7

63 (35.0)

Q13 Type of Book Preferred

Non-fiction

6

3

4

2

4

-

2

5

4

7

5

1

43 (23.9)

Fiction

14

8

6

11

16

5

20

13

15

14

8

7

137 (76.1)

Q14 Books Recommended to Friends

Yes

20

11

9

13

19

5

21

17

17

19

11

7

169 (93.1)

No

-

-

1

-

1

-

1

1

2

2

2

1

11 (6.9)

 APPENDIX – Authors Named by Children in answer to Question 9 

 

Boys

 

Girls

Authors’ Names / Form

1

2

3

4

 

1

2

3

4

Louisa M ALCOTT

 

 

 

1

 

 

1

1

 

Hans Christian ANDERSEN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Jane AUSTEN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

R M BALLANTYNE

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judith M BERRISFORD

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Ann BLOUNT

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

Enid BLYTON

9

1

3

2

 

18

20

9

6

Charlotte BRONTE

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

1

Emily BRONTE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Anthony BUCKERIDGE

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

2

 

Lewis CARROLL

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

“CASSANDRA”

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

Agatha CHRISTIE

 

 

2

2

 

 

 

3

1

Archie COATES

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Susan COOLIDGE

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

3

 

Richmal CROMPTON

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel DEFOE

 

2

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charles DICKENS

6

4

2

7

 

3

 

7

6

Walt DISNEY

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

Douglas V DUFF

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexandre DUMAS

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

J Meade FALKNER

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby FERGUSON

 

 

 

 

 

1

1

4

 

Ian FLEMING

1

3

9

4

 

 

 

1

1

Eve GARNETT

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

W GREEN

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

Zane GREY

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

Rene GUILLOT

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

J K JELGAARD

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capt W E JOHNS

1

3

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eric KASTNER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Carolyn KEENE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Charles KINGSLEY

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rudyard KIPLING

 

 

1

 

 

 

1

 

1

Patricia LEIGH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

John LENNON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

Eric LEYLAND

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Kathleen MACKENZIE

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

Bobby MOORE

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ted MOULT

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

O S NOCK

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arthur RANSOME

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

Fred REINFELD

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P ROBERTS

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boys

 

Girls

 

1

2

3

4

 

1

2

3

4

Peter SCOTT

 

1

1

1

 

 

 

 

1

Ian SERRAILLIER

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David SEVERN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

Anna SEWELL

1

 

 

 

 

9

2

 

 

William SHAKESPEARE

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Jane SHAW

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

Luke SHORT

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

R SINCLAIR