Do book clubs help students develop an interest in reading? Would they help them to become better readers? What about better people, better able to listen and understand others’ perspectives? These were the questions that Jurgen Tijims (University of Amsterdam) and his colleagues were interested in investigating. More specifically, they wondered if book clubs would help high-school students from poor areas in Amsterdam. Poor students struggle with reading and navigating social conflicts (Elias & Haynes, 2008), performing poorly in school compared to their peers (McBride Murray, Berkel, Gaylord-Harden, Copeland-Linder, & Nation, 2011), making them an important population to target for an intervention. The researchers gathered 90 grade 9 students from 2 different schools in poor communities in Amsterdam. The students were then randomly assigned to either participate in a book club (n = 50) or standard language classes (n = 40) for 8-10 sessions. In the end, books club participants did better on measures of reading comprehension, had more positive attitudes toward leisure, and improved their social-emotional skills compared to the control group. However, the researchers did not observe an improvement in attitude towards school-related readings for the book club participants, and these students were also not motivated to read more. This study is important because it is the first to experimentally test the effects of a book club on students from under-privileged communities. In the future, it would be interesting to see whether there are any long-term effects of this kind of intervention. But based on this research, there could be benefits to incorporating book clubs into the school curriculum to improve reading and socioemotional competencies, for disadvantaged communities.
Tijms, J., Stoop, M. A., & Polleck, J. N. (2018). Bibliotherapeutic book club intervention to promote reading skills and social–emotional competencies in low SES community‐based high schools: A randomised controlled trial. Journal of Research in Reading, 41, 525-545.
Elias, M.J. & Haynes, N.M. (2008). Social competence, social support, and academic achievement in minority, low-income, urban elementary school children. School Psychology Quarterly, 23, 474–495.
McBride Murry, V., Berkel, C., Gaylord-Harden, K., Copeland-Linder, N. & Nation, M. (2011). Neighborhood poverty and adolescent development. Journal of Research in Adolescence, 21, 114–128.
Post by Sarah Skelding.
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