Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Pleasure reading benefits study

Reading for fun has academic benefits for students, according to a recent study. The study found that students in elementary school often read for fun, but that changes in high school -- and that love of reading appears to decline. The study found significant differences between students who read for pleasure outside of class—immersing themselves in fantasy novels or spy thrillers, for example—and those who primarily read books to satisfy school assignments. Not only was there a powerful link between reading for fun and stronger language skills, but students who disliked reading frequently attributed their negative outlook to experiences they had in classrooms. Too much emphasis on analyzing the compositional nuts and bolts of texts and reading merely to absorb information came at a psychological cost, the researchers found, as students disengaged from voluntary reading.

Martin-Chang, S., Kozak, S., Levesque, K.C. et al. What’s your pleasure? exploring the predictors of leisure reading for fiction and nonfiction. Reading & Writing (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-020-10112-7

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Representation in children's books study

 1,133 books from 19 different award categories, published over the last 100 years, were studied to examine issues of race and gender. The analysis of images revealed the following about race in children’s books:

  •  Books in the Mainstream collection are more likely to depict lighter-skinned characters than those in the Diversity collection.  Specifically, books in the Mainstream collection are much more likely to depict characters who are racially ambiguous in terms of skin color, disproportionately using skin colors that cannot be classified either as that of light-skinned characters nor as that of dark-skinned characters, a technique the authors call “butterscotching.”
  • Over the last two decades, representation of lighter skin tones in Mainstream books has actually increased.
  • Children are more likely than adults to be shown with lighter skin, in both Mainstream and Diversity collections.
  • Females have always appeared in pictures over time, but they are predominantly white females and still average less than 50 percent of pictures and text.

The authors also compared the female appearances in images to female mentions in text and found:

  • Females are more consistently seen in images than written about in the text, except in the collection of books specifically selected to highlight females. The authors deduced that this suggests “symbolic inclusion of females in pictures without their substantive inclusion in the actual story.”
  • Males, especially white males, are persistently more likely to be represented by every measure, with little change over time.
  • Adukia, A. et al. (2021). What we teach about race and gender: Representation in images and text of children's books. Becker Friedman Institute. 
  • https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=new-study-looks-race-gender-representation-in-award-winning-childrens-books&utm_source=Marketing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=april22AcademicNewswire


Friday, April 9, 2021

Print vs. Online Reading Meta-Analysis

 A recent meta-analysis found that children ages 1 to 8 were less likely to understand picture books if they read the ebook version instead of the print version, but only when the ebook didn't have effective enhancements. For the analysis, researchers examined more than 39 studies involving more than 1,800 children. Though generally print picture books outperformed their digital counterparts in terms of reader comprehension, if the ebooks contained enhancements that reinforced story content not only did the print advantage go away but students learned more. Adults’ mediation during print books’ reading was more effective than the enhancements in digital books read by children independently. However, with story-congruent enhancements, digital books outperformed paper books. An embedded dictionary had no or negative effect on children’s story comprehension but positively affected children’s vocabulary learning.

Furenes, M., Kucirkova, Review of Educational Research. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654321998074


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

COVID19 impact on libraries report

ALA published “State of America’s Libraries Special Report: COVID-19,” which serves as “a snapshot of the library communities’ resilience, determination, and innovation in unprecedented circumstances. The State of America’s Libraries report is released annually during National Library Week, April 4–10, and this year’s issue focuses on the impact of the novel coronavirus on all types of libraries during the previous calendar year.” An example of the findings: “Coronavirus opened a floodgate of misinformation. Library staff worked to eradicate misinformation about COVID-19, which was infused with xenophobia and especially Sinophobia, resulting in a surge of bigotry against Asian or Chinese people. Throughout 2020, librarians responded to misinformation about vaccines, the census, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the 2020 Presidential Election.”

Additionally, “attempts to remove library materials continued during the pandemic, despite many libraries and schools closing or moving their activities and services online. …  In 2020, more than 273 books were challenged or banned. Demands to remove books addressing racism and racial justice or those that shared the stories of Black, Indigenous, or people of color grew in number. At the same time, books addressing themes and issues of concern for LGBTQIA+ people continued to dominate the list.” The top 10 most challenged books of 2020 were the following:

  1. George by Alex Gino
  2. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
  3. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
  4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  6. Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  9. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas