I was satisfied that those studies made a strong case for making expository nonfiction more available to students and integrating it into more classroom lessons, but a few weeks ago, Terrell Young, a professor of education at Brigham Young University in Utah, sent me a newly published article with even stronger evidence.
Repanskey, Lisa L., Jeanne Schumm, and Jacqueline Johnson. “First and Fourth Grade Boys’ and Girls’ Preferences for and Perceptions about Narrative and Expository Text.” Reading Psychology, 2017, p. 1-40.
The study included 42 students in first grade (21 girls and 21 boys) and 42 students in fourth grade (21 girls and 21 boys) who were evenly divided among the three reading levels (below, at, and above grade level) and from a range of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. All of the children had received equal exposure to expository and narrative text since kindergarten.
Each student was introduced to five sets of books. Each set consisted of one fiction title and one expository nonfiction title on the same topic. The children were encouraged to take their time with the books, browsing, skimming, or reading as much as they wanted to and then asked which ones they would like to read. They could choose as many as they liked.
The students’ selections showed that 67% of first grade boys and 48% of fourth grade boys had a clear preference for the expository books. 19% of first grade boys and 33% of fourth grade boys liked the narrative and expository titles equally.
38% of first grade girls and 19% of fourth grade girls had a clear preference for the expository books. Another 38% of first grade girls and 62% of fourth grade girls liked the narrative and expository titles equally.
In other words, for both grade levels and both genders, more than 75 percent of students liked the expository books as much as or more than narrative titles. 42 percent had a moderate or strong preference for expository nonfiction.These are powerful results.
Once again, I encourage you to get the full article and read it. I’ll be sharing findings from the Scholastic Reading Report next week.