A4 Article in conference proceedings
Young boys’ opinions about reading, literacy lessons and their reading competence

List of Authors: Tuula Merisuo-Storm, Marjaana Soininen
Place: Madrid
Publication year: 2012
Book title *: ICERI2012 Proceedings
Title of series: ICERI Publications
Number of pages: 10
ISBN: 978-84-616-0763-1


The first school years are an important phase of a child’s life. The children’s experience of this phase has a far-reaching effect on their attitudes towards school and it shapes their view of themselves as learners for years to come. The teacher has an important role when a child assesses himself or herself as a student. If a child gets positive experiences and feedback when studying he or she becomes more confident as a student. For boys the opinions of their peers are very important. Consequently, it is worth remembering that a student’s attitudes towards reading affect not only his or her own engagement in literacy; they often affect the literacy environment of the whole classroom: negative attitudes are contagious.

Often boys’ reluctance to read leads to a decline in their reading skills. For instance, in PISA (the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment), girls scored better in reading literacy than boys in all OECD countries. Hence, it is important to reflect how it would be possible to motivate young boys to read. The teacher has to know what texts appeal to his or her pupils and what kind of exercises they find interesting.

The goal of the study was to explore what kind of attitudes boys and girls have towards reading during their first two school years. The other goal was to examine what kind of reading material and teaching methods could motivate boys as well as girls to read and enjoy the activities during reading lessons. The third goal was to find out how well pupils are able to assess their reading competence.

To measure children’s attitudes towards reading we constructed a questionnaire including 17 questions for all pupils and five extra questions for second-graders. The questionnaire covers four different areas: 1) attitudes towards reading, 2) attitudes towards studying, 3) attitudes towards social reading, and 4) feeling of competence. The scale used in the questionnaire is a Likert-type 1–4 (agree–disagree). Both instruments have a very good internal consistency with Cronbach’s alpha of 0.90 in first-grade-version and 0.89 in second-grade-version.

The study was conducted in September 2011 and 563 children (281 boys and 259 girls) took part in it. The results show that in both grades the girls had more positive attitudes than the boys. However, in second grade the difference was not as significant as in first grade. In attitudes towards reading -section of the questionnaire both genders enjoyed most visiting library and the most significant differences between the two genders were in their attitudes towards reading fairy tales. Boys regard them as ‘girls’ books’. In attitudes towards studying -section the pupils had most negative attitudes towards homework and exercise book tasks. The boys’ attitudes towards them as well as towards social reading were significantly more negative than the girls’ attitudes. Both the boys and the girls had most negative attitudes towards reading aloud in class. The boys felt uncomfortable when doing this significantly more often than the girls. When assessing their reading competence the boys, however, had more positive opinions than the girls. Even if they had stated that learning to read had been difficult they assessed that reading and comprehending texts was easy for them. However, the reading comprehension test showed that the girls had significantly better reading skills and they were also able to assess their skills significantly better than the boys. 

Research Areas

Last updated on 2019-21-08 at 23:19