E. Michaelsen, J. Pihl

Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (NORWAY)
International tests such as PIRLS 2006 and PISA 2009 show that boys in Norway, as in other OECD-countries, have poorer reading skills than girls (OECD 2010, Begnum et.al 2007, Kjærnsli & Roe 2010). Results at individual level show that reading skills are influenced by whether the student has negative or positive attitudes towards reading, and if the student has reading related leisure time interests. These aspects can altogether be characterized as reading engagement. A crucial issue for the school is thus to contribute to enhancing students’ reading engagement in order to strengthen their reading skills.

The paper presents a case study of the reading interests and attitudes of two 12 year old boys. The data are collected from a longitudinal study where a group of students from 4th through 7th grade are asked about their reading interests, their attitudes towards reading, their use of the library and other activities related to reading. Data from a questionnaire and from interviews with the two boys are analyzed in light of New Literacy Studies (Barton 2007; Gee 2003; Gee 2010) and results from PIRLS (2006) and PISA (2009).

As might be expected, the two boys prefer literature characterized as “action”. However, the interviews also reveal reading practices that deserve some attention. For instance, the reading engagement of one boy has increased significantly due to having been exposed to Japanese cartoons (Manga) introduced by friends. The other boy, who does not characterize himself as “a reader”, and who has negative attitudes towards literacy activities in school, has in fact read complex texts such as PC and video game manuals in his first and second language (Norwegian and English).

Cartoons and video games might not be valued by teachers as sources of reading engagement. Barton (2007) claims that children tend to feel excluded when their own literacy practices are not valued by the school. This case study thus aims to contribute to the discussion of how teachers can value and build on children’s literacy practices outside the educational domain in order to enhance reading engagement and reading skills.

Barton, D. (2007). Literacy: an introduction to the ecology of written language. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Pub.
Begnum, A. C., Daal, V. v., Gabrielsen, N. N. og Solheim, R. G. (2007). PIRLS. Norske elevers leseinnsats og leseferdigheter. Resultater for fjerde og femte trinn i den internasjonale studien PIRLS 2006. Lesesenteret, University of Stavanger.
Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York: Palgrave/Macmillan
Gee, J. P. (2010). New Digital Media and Learning as an Emerging Area and «Worked Examples» as One Way Forward. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Kjærnsli, M., & Roe, A. (2010): På rett spor. Norske elevers kompetanse i lesing, matematikk og naturfag i PISA 2009. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.