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TGS Librarian Takes Reading Research to the World

Toowoomba Grammar School Head of Library and Information Science, Liz Derouet is unlocking the secret to getting more teenage boys to read.

In this age of technology, books are gathering dust on shelves and children are losing interest in reading as a past-time.

Ms Derouet has been investigating ways to encourage boys to become more diverse readers recreationally. She started the research in June last year, focussing on a group of fourteen Year 8 TGS students and her findings have been extremely interesting; so much so that Ms Derouet was invited to present her research at the International Boys School Coalition annual conference in Montreal, Canada last month (June 27-29).

The boys involved in the project varied from those who already enjoy reading to boys who don’t read recreationally at all. They were required to read a minimum of four books each of different format and theme.

The study found that

  • all the boys preferred to choose books that have a sense of familiarity – that they have seen as a movie, was introduced through a book talk or was a subject they were familiar with.
  • boys who were reluctant or struggling readers had a better understanding of complex ‘picture books for older readers’ than boys who were stronger readers.
  • boys like to have ‘free choice’ when it comes to reading, rather than being told they have to read a certain book.
  • boys like fiction and non-fiction stories
  • many boys who started the study as conservative readers became adventurous readers by the end of the study
  • all boys who participated in the research changed their perceptions about reading to appreciate it more and have a better understanding of what’s available.

Ms Derouet hopes her research will help teachers and parents around the world embrace these initiatives to encourage boys to read more.

Reading helps develop empathy, allows them to see other teenagers in a more positive light then often portrayed in media, can provide people with situations they can relate to and is important for cognitive and literacy development.