What is reading?

YALSA had this post by Linda Braun on its blog today. It’s something we had discussed in my abstract group, so I was pleased to see it being addressed there. Having an interest in research pertaining to youth and reading, how reading is defined is definitely something I find important. It does seem as if a lot of the research is focused on book reading or, at the very least, does begin that way even if the researchers expand that definition later or discover in their results that teens are reading in other ways. The idea of reading equaling books is a pretty common one. As Braun stated in her post:

While more and more I am pleased to find that librarians, teachers, and parents understand that reading does not only happen in the traditional book form, I still find that when I, and others, talk about reading, in many cases we focus primarily on books…And, it seems to me that it’s a subtle way of placing more of a value on book reading than other types of reading. We may know intellectually that other forms of reading “count” but we might not speak, and Tweet, as if we do.

In the past I know I’ve been guilty of this. I know that reading can occur online and in magazines, but I often would only think of books when the action of reading was discussed or mentioned. Though I’ve made an effort to redefine my view of reading and do consider other forms legitimate, I know that it will take more effort before I reach the point where books are not my first thought.

This focus on expanding my definition has also piqued my interest in researching those other forms of reading. One of the articles* I abstracted for our group work focused on the correlation between the reading habits of parents and those of their children. I’d like to go into even more detail with that and focus on the type of reading. How does the format affect the results? Does the correlation exist across types or would book reading only correlate to book reading and internet reading to internet reading, etc.? How do the participants’ definitions of reading affect the results?

*Mullan, K. (2010). Families that read: A time-diary analysis of young people’s and parents’ reading. Journal of Research in Reading, 33(4), 414-430.


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