Reader Boys: Nonfiction Books and Teenage Males Research Project


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Reader Boys: Nonfiction Books and Teenage Males Research Project

  1. 1. Reader Boys: Nonfiction Books and Teenage Males Research Project Brooke Windsor December 5, 2009
  2. 2. Reader Boys Research Question to Be Answered: Will shifting book displays in a school library media center to include more non- fiction young adult selections increase the circulation numbers of teenage boy students?
  3. 3. Reader Boys Literature Review Summary 1.) School Library Association of the United Kingdom. (2009). Books for boys. Retrieved from This article looks into some basic facts of the reading habits of boys before it starts to make recommendations about selections for boys and possible programming events. It notes how experiences and surveys lead to many of the same conclusions—the primary being that boys tend to read more for a purpose than to simply enjoy the act of reading, meaning that nonfiction selections are of great popularity since it ties into the act of reading for a reason instead of mere entertainment. 2.) Champagne, J. (2009). What do boys want? Nonfiction! Retrieved from This article by a school librarian details how she interviewed many of the boys who enter her school library and came to the conclusion that boys favor things that are true—true facts, true stories. Therefore, she found that most boys tend to lean more toward nonfiction even though she does issue a caveat that each child is different and some boys are very much interested in fiction. 3.) Gorley, V. (2001). Research shows boys prefer nonfiction. Retrieved from This article is a good overview of many research projects conducted by average school librarians and a handful of university professors that point to boys preferring to read “real stuff,” leading them to read more factual books than fictional tales. Even publishers are starting to pick up on this information to produce more nonfiction selections geared specifically toward boys, which creates a feedback system of increasing the number of nonfiction books for boys and more boys wanting to read those types of books.
  4. 4. Reader Boys Research Procedures -The participants for this study were selected as the total male population of Jamesville-Dewitt High School in Dewitt, NY. It included all male grade nine up to grade twelve—a total of 530 individuals. The numbers of circulation were collected from the daily, weekly, and monthly circulation reports that come directly from the library's administration operating system which keeps track of all items being checked in and out of the library. -Currently the circulation numbers stand at total circulation (including nonfiction, fiction, reference, and magazines) is 1,129/month— averaging 282/week or 56/day—which is very nice for a moderate sized high school of 965 students. Since this study is focusing primarily on the circulation of fiction and nonfiction, it was necessary to break up those numbers as well. The numbers are 200/week for fiction 65/week for nonfiction.
  5. 5. Reader Boys Research Procedures -Those base numbers then had to be analyzed by gender. Out of the weekly fiction numbers, only 85 of the 200 check-outs were by males. The nonfiction books were divided more equitably—30 of the 65 were by males. -The two current displays in the school library revolve mostly around girl-centered fiction, such as the super popular Twilight Saga and the Clique series. This study will take these base circulation numbers and see how they can be affected by the changing of the displays in the school library media center. -There is a great deal of literature that speaks of how boys tend to be drawn more to nonfiction selections. By changing the two displays to feature more nonfiction books, I am hoping to increase the number of male checkouts and thereby increasing the numbers of nonfiction circulation in general.
  6. 6. Reader Boys Research Procedures -I first looked up the YALSA (Young Adult Library Service Association) Best Books for Young Adults booklists for the past three years. Focusing on the nonfiction section of the lists, I searched for those selections in the JDHS collection. -The books I found were: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel Far From Home: Latino Baseball Players in America by Tim Wendel A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China by Matthew Polly Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet Tough Boy Sonatas by Curtis Crisler
  7. 7. Reader Boys Research Procedures -The two displayed centered in the media center focused on these six books, making sure they were always in sight of anyone in the library and had creative things to draw attention to them. *Toy foods surrounded What the World Eats *Baseball paraphernalia like a ball and glove for Far From Home *Journalist photos of Sierra Leone's civil war for A Long Way Gone *Martial arts materials like knun-chucks for American Shaolin *Born on a Blue Day had colorful geometric toys like blocks *Tough Boy Sonatas had boxing gloves and a bongo drum -These items certainly seemed to grab the attention of all patrons who entered the media center as when individual students during their free time or the ones assigned to enter during the two study periods of the day immediately looked at the displays.
  8. 8. Reader Boys Research Procedures -I also provided related nonfiction selections around these large displays such as nutritional books, poetry collections, baseball novels, and martial arts instruction so that there are plenty of books from which to choose if the showcased book is checked out or was enjoyed so much that the reader wanted more. -These displays were set up at the very beginning of the week before the school day had begun and was kept up (as it had to be restocked several times) for the span of one school week. The circulation statistics were carefully monitored by printing out daily reports that specified the number of nonfiction books were checked out and the gender of the patron who borrowed the materials.
  9. 9. Reader Boys Results I created two graphs to compare the circulation of nonfiction among males the week before my study and the week of my study to see the comparison of the effects of the display changes. Week Before Week Of
  10. 10. Reader Boys Results Also, it should be noted that the selections on display and the related texts that were recommended for further reading were checked out primarily by the boys in the school. The circulation numbers of the girls checking out nonfiction remained the same at approximately 35 check outs over the week while the boys rose to the previously indicated levels of 46 from the previous count of 30.
  11. 11. Reader Boys Conclusions Looking at the graph comparison, it is easy to see that the nonfiction displays clearly made a positive difference in the circulation numbers amongst the teenage boys of Jamesville-Dewitt High School. Also, instead of a sharp rise over the week, there was a more gentle gradient even though the same pattern of a high number of check outs on Thursdays and a lower number on Fridays remained the same. The fact that the numbers themselves were larger though makes me feel that this pattern is more of a result of school requirements and normal social schedules—such as checking out books to get assignments done before the weekend rolls around. Yet, overall, bringing attention to the wide, popular selection of nonfiction that the library had available increased circulation among the target group of participants.
  12. 12. Reader Boys Limitations The major limitation with this study was time. Circulation numbers naturally fluctuate; therefore, extended amounts of time might show differences that are partially from this natural oscillation. Also, I did not have time to perform the study in reverse like I wanted to truly confirm my results, meaning having the displays focus primarily on fiction to see if it lead to lower circulation numbers for the boys in the school.
  13. 13. Reader Boys Further Research I certainly would like to see further research in this area by perhaps having a year long study, going back and forth between fiction and nonfiction displays to track any fluctuations in the circulation numbers, perhaps getting to the point of being able to predict the oscillation of the checkout count. Also, it would be useful to have a longer study to see if the displays affect the specific areas of checkouts—such as displaying books from the 300s or 500s to see if those topics are the highest to be checked out during that week but then those numbers fade when the display moves to the 400s or 900s.