Reader Boys: Nonfiction Books and Teenage Males Research Project
and Teenage Males
December 5, 2009
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
Literature Review Summary
1.) School Library Association of the United Kingdom. (2009). Books for boys. Retrieved from http://www.sla.org.uk/bib-intro-6.php.
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
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
-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
-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.
-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
-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.
-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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.