It's Complicated (Or, Reading is More than One Thing)

Reading on a kindlePeople who enjoy reading are probably better at reading, right?

Sort of.

Lupo, Jang, & McKenna (2017) published research recently that compared teens' reading achievement to their attitudes toward print and digital texts. They definitely found that teens who report enjoying reading print-based texts do well on reading achievement tests. They expected that - research that links liking print-based reading to doing well on reading tests has been around for a while.

The interesting point, though, is that pretty much all teens, both those who score above and those who score below grade level on reading assessments, report enjoying reading when they're reading recreational digital texts. Recreational digital texts include things like posts on social media, blogs, instant messaging, emailing friends, and texting. 

That means that a positive attitude towards reading isn't a guarantee that a student will do well on an assessment. AND, it means that youth who score poorly on reading assessments still enjoy plenty of text-based activities. 

How might educators use this research in their practice? Here are three ideas:

  1. #booksnaps. Hashtagging print-based reading can be an incredibly powerful way to engage in the social aspect of reading. Here's a link to a whole lotta resources about how to do it from Tara Martin.
  2. Annotate socially. Is everyone reading a book together? Take a photo of a page of the text. Put the photo into a Google Drawing. Share the Google Drawing with the class. Annotate together. Here's a little info on how to use Google Drawings from Ask A Tech Teacher
  3. Write interactively.  There are programs where youth can write choose-your-own-adventure-style videogame/stories. It is amazing. Here's a blog post where Audrey Homan of the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education breaks down some of the platforms for writing like this.

Lupo, S., Jang, B. G., & McKenna, M. (2017). The relationship between reading achievement and attitudes toward print and digital texts in adolescent readers. Literacy Research: Theory, Method, and Practice, XX, 1-15.