Children's classics : a reading preference study of fifth and sixth graders



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In light of the current focus in education upon a return to basics and an emphasis on the classics of literature, this study investigated the preferences of fifth and sixth graders for those books generally recognized as classics in children's literature. The purposes were: (1) to identify the children's classics that were the most and least preferred by fifth and sixth graders; (2) to compare relationships between the children's classics and grade level and sex; (3) to determine if any relationship existed between children's preferences for specific classics and the age of the classics; (4) to analyze the most popular children's classics in regard to characteristics such as (a) content, (b) tone, and (c) literary elements. Procedures. Twenty-seven children's classics were selected from a list published by Horn Book and entitled Children's Classics (1976). Four sets of the 27 classics in paperback were sent to nine elementary schools in a Houston-area school district. A videotape was used to acquaint the youngsters with the study. To encourage the children to read the classics, the investigator sponsored a reading contest, and awards were given. Three groups of students, based upon number of classics read, were examined. A total of 773 students (Group 1) took part in the survey over a four-month period. Upon completion of each classic, the students indicated their level of enjoyment on a 5-point scale and provided written comments concerning their reasons for liking and disliking particular classics. A total of 374 students (Group 2) read three or more classics. At the end of the study, the students reading three or more classics were given a ballot to vote on their favorite classic. Group 3 was comprised of nine girls who read all 27 classics. The responses of the students were analyzed. Frequency counts of the student responses to the classics were used, and the mean scores were calculated to rank each book and to determine the most and least preferred classics. The voting results of those students reading three or more classics were also analyzed. T-tests were used to determine the preference differences according to sex and grade. [...]



Children--Books and reading, Children''s literature--Study and teaching