The Resistant Reader Dilemma

By Anne

Last spring I conducted a qualitative study on why high school students were resistant to reading.  I was substituting at the high school level, and it disturbed me to see that most of the students I observed did not crack open a book at school.  This is what led me to my study.  I wanted to find out if any of these students were reading at all.

As I interviewed random students for my research on resistant readers, I became painfully aware that these students are only resistant to the literacy that is offered to them in the classroom.  The students were disinterested in the lessons that the teachers assigned them, and especially anything that had to do with the textbooks.  They gave many reasons, from “The textbooks were not written well,” to “They are boring and have very few pictures.”

When I asked these same students about their reading habits outside of school, it was a completely different story.  They had a wide range of literacies outside of school.  Some of the students were reading novels by Stephen King and others were into the new graphic novels like Manga.  The other students were reading magazines and comics.  What was interesting is that all of these students read avidly outside of school.

So what is the problem?  Why aren’t these students reading in school? It is obvious of course!  The research I read on this supported that the curriculum and textbooks that we are using are not working.  It also supported that students’ interests in reading lie outside of school.  As teachers, we need to incorporate the students’ reading interests into the school curriculum.  It is time to take the old curriculum and give it new life by using authentic literacy that relates to the students.


5 thoughts on “The Resistant Reader Dilemma

  1. Selia July 2, 2010 / 4:08 pm

    I wish that more administrators could see the way that we are beginning to see. It would be beneficial to be allowed to bring in the types of literacies that will get our students interested in reading. The sad thing is that they will most likely see graphic novels and comics as wasting time. Maybe we need to try to bring them in slowly and show the type of work that can be produced with literature that our students are interested in.

  2. Claudia July 2, 2010 / 6:18 pm

    The study you conducted was very interesting. Your findings on high school students and their wide range of literacies outside the school, should serve as an example to teachers, of the many benefits of using authentic literature in the classroom.

  3. Sonia July 4, 2010 / 1:57 am

    Anne, Just as with the reading, students enjoy writing when it is meaningul and interesting. I definitely agree with you that we need to give the old curriculum new life. As teachers, we should always strive to make learning fun and interesting.

  4. Robbie Evans May 16, 2011 / 6:12 pm

    I have this project for my teacher who is wanting information about young adult literature. And she wants us to find articles, websites and comics that are related to this topic, and I am going to reference this blog to her. If you are uncomfortable with me referring this blog to her please let me know as soon as possible and I will tell her that she cannot use this. Thanks so much,

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