Latino avid readers at two South Texas charter schools: Analysis of common characteristics and reading success of middle school students
Sutterby, Sandra Murillo
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Americans spend less time reading today than they did at the end of the 20th century according to a national survey conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts (2007). Further investigation revealed that much research on reading has been conducted in the formative years, but little has been explored in the middle grades (Moje, 2002). Students' interest in recreational reading declines by the time they reach middle school (McKenna, Kear, & Ellsworth, 1995). Collectively, these concerns present a problem of producing non-readers or alliterate persons who can read but choose not to. With so much attention on non-readers, those individuals who enjoy reading for recreation often go unnoticed. The focus of this study is on middle school avid readers who choose to read for enjoyment. This study examined middle school students in a predominately Latino community at two charter schools in South Texas. This study explored the shared characteristics of avid readers, and how their literary avidness contributed to their reading achievement with an emphasis on gender, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and accessibility to literacy materials. Students in grades six, seven, and eight completed an electronic reading questionnaire with 25 questions that collected data on demographics, reading attitudes, self-perception, family literacy practices, reading habits, and reading preferences, Statistical analysis from the study revealed significant correlations between avid readers, reading achievement, and access to literacy materials. Libraries were related to high reading achievement while socioeconomic status negatively affected overall reading success. This study established that Latino middle school students are equal in reading ability as other racial/ethnic populations nationally and internationally and that males hold literacy competencies at the same level as females. Attentive parents and teachers positively impacted student success, while motivation for reading, large amounts of time spent in recreational reading, access to literacy materials, fair family income, and positive self-efficacy were also related to high reading achievements. These results are important because increasing accessibility to reading materials by means of school and classroom libraries would create more avid readers. Results from this study would also help teachers and librarians support reading success for all students.