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Herausgegeben von

In conclusion the author wishes to thank President G. Stanley Hall, Professor W. H. Burnham, and Dr. Theodate L. Smith for suggestions, and Dr. Louis N. Wilson for aid in procuring books, in connection with this study.


Scholar in Education, State University of Iowa, Iowa City.

How much do pupils in the grammar grades and high school read voluntarily? Is there any relation between the amount and character of voluntary reading done and the character of school work done by the same pupils? Is the course in English as presented in the schools vitally related to the pupils' voluntary reading? To what extent is the public library a determining factor in the formation of a good reading habit? These and similar questions form the basis of this study. To secure data, questions were submitted to the pupils in all grades above the fifth in the schools of Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Council Bluffs. Answers were received from 915 boys and 1,284 girls.

The report may be considered under three heads, viz., (1) as to the quantity of reading done, (2) as to the quality of reading done, and (3) conclusions and suggestions for further studies.



I. About how many books of your own selection have you read since last September? Do not include books which have been assigned for reading, but those which you have selected voluntarily.

2. Do you read the daily papers?


What magazines do you read?

The following table is an analysis of the answers to the first question, combining the results of the three schools.

Pupils in the three grades (sixth, seventh and eighth) below the high school read on an average 19% more than do the pupils in the high school. Reference to the table shows that the highest average is in the seventh and eighth grades, which is due principally to the fact that the above-average readers and the excessive readers are more numerous in these grades than in any others. For example, the number of pupils reading more than 15 books, or two books a month, take rank in the following order by grades:

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Eighth grade, 43.5%; twelfth grade, 38%; seventh grade, 35.5%; sixth grade, 28%; ninth grade, 25.5%; tenth grade, 24%; eleventh grade, 23.5%.

The high percentage of twelfth grade pupils who were aboveaverage readers is accounted for by the fact that, although there were practically no excessive readers in this grade, there were very few who were below average.

Out of a total of 22 pupils who reported having read one hundred books during the eight months, 2 were in the seventh and eighth grades, 2 in the sixth grade, 4 in the ninth grade, and one each in the tenth and eleventh grades.

33% of the pupils in the grammar school and 40% of those in the high school read less than one book a month.

11% of the grades and 7% of the high school read nothing that was not required.

The percentage of pupils reading from 8 to 15 books, or from I to 2 books a month is slightly greater in the high school than in the grammar school. These are the average readers and constitute from about a fifth to a fourth of all the pupils.

The transition from the elementary to the high school is marked by a drop from an average of 18 books in the eighth grade to 13 in the ninth grade.

A number of causes may be assigned for the decline in the amount of voluntary reading done after the pupil enters the high school, viz., the ideals of the high school are usually radically different from those of the elementary school: more reference is made to the library in connection with school studies: new subjects, as algebra and rhetoric are often introduced in the ninth grade and methods of teaching high school subjects are frequently of such a nature as to require much more time in the preparation of lessons than was required in the grades. When we consider the amount of reference made to the library

in the preparation of lessons in history and literature and the amount of collateral reading required by the English teachers it is quite probable that high school pupils read as much as seventh or eighth grade pupils.

If we compare the average amount of reading of boys with that of girls we find, on the whole, practically no difference. There is, however, a higher percentage both of excessive readers (those reading 40 or 50 to 100 books) and of delinquents (those reading no books), but a lower percentage of average readers among boys than among girls. 30% more boys than girls read excessively, and a proportionally large number read nothing voluntarily, while 23% of the boys and 20% of the girls read an average of 1 to 2 books a month.

Questions 2 and 3 refer to periodical reading. Fully 85% of all pupils, both boys and girls above the fifth grade, read the daily paper and quite as many read at least one magazine a month. The number of magazines increases noticeably from the sixth through the eighth grade where 50% of the pupils average 3 to 6 magazines a month. Above the eighth grade there is, at first, a slight decline and then a considerable increase. There is no noticeable difference between boys and girls with regard to quantity of periodical reading.

Data for studying the correlation between the number of books a pupil reads and the character of his school work was obtained from the register and from individual teachers. I compared the records of 85 pupils with their reports on reading and the result indicates practically no correlation between the amount of reading done and the character of school work. In a few cases fairly bright pupils were reported as doing poor school work at a time corresponding to a period of great reading.

"Excellent," "Good," "Medium," and "Poor" are equally distributed among the four groups of readers. If a pupil who reads little or nothing is graded good or excellent, one of two assumptions may be made, either that he is not interested in reading, or that his time and energy are all required to keep up his school work. Such cases should be studied individually and where proper incentives are wanting or opportunities insufficient these should be supplied. Pupils who read a great deal and are marked poor or medium form a variable class. A few may be educating themselves more truly than the school can do. Others are drifting in the current of aimless pastime and need the stimulus of sympathetic direction and inspiration. Only by studying individual cases can the problem be solved.

A comparison between pupils of the same grade and between boys and girls of the same and different grades shows two things, which will be of special interest to English teachers, and to all who attach a pedagogical significance to the study of

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