Engaging readers: impact of increased access to preferred books in reading workshop

This study investigated the impact of increased access to preferred books on first grade students' behaviors in reading workshop. The subjects were 19 first graders, 10 boys and 9 girls in a Southern California school. The following two terms were used throughout the study and defined here: "book preference" refers to the type of book one generally likes to read and "book choice" refers to the selection of a book at a given time. Student interviews were conducted to reveal the types of books they preferred. Their responses indicated a significant preference for fiction type books. These preferred books were purchased and made accessible for student use during workshop activities. Student behaviors were observed and recorded in field notes during independent reading activities with different degrees of access to preferred books. The results indicated "engaged" behaviors at 91% frequency during "interest reading" (maximal access to preferred books) and 76% frequency during "private reading" (minimal access to preferred books). Gender-related differences were noted. Three related objectives were examined: student attitudes about workshop activities, book choice, and reading in general. A survey was used to investigate these objectives. The results indicated that most students "liked" workshop activities, most students "liked" to choose their own books to read, and most students "liked" reading in general. The implications of these findings for reading workshop practices and book preference are discussed. Key Words: Book Preference, Book Choice, Reading Workshop, Engaging Readers, Student Behaviors, Reading Attitudes, First Grade