2013. Vol.4, No.8, 484-491
Published Online August 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ce) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ce.2013.48070
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Impact of Students’ Reading Preferences on Reading
Yamina Bouchamma1, Vincent Poulin1, Marc Basque2, Catherine Ruel1
1Department of Foundations and Practices in Education, Laval University, Quebec, Canada
2Department of Kinesiology and Recreation, Moncton University, Moncton, Canada
Received April 19th, 2013; revised May 19th, 2013; accepted May 26th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Yamina Bouchamma et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Com-
mons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, pro-
vided the original work is properly cited.
The reading preferences of 13-year-old boys and girls were examined to identify the factors determining
reading achievement. Students from each Canadian province and one territory (N = 20,094) completed a
questionnaire on, among others, the types of in-class reading activities. T-test results indicate that the
boys spent more time reading textbooks, magazines, newspapers, Internet articles and electronic encyclo-
pedias, while the girls read more novels, fiction, informative or non-fiction texts, and books from the
school or local libraries. Logistical regression shows that reading achievement for both sexes was deter-
mined by identical reading preferences: reading novels, informative texts, and books from the school li-
brary, as well as level of interest in the class reading material and participation in the discussions on what
was read in class.
Keywords: Academic Achievement; Reading; Reading Preferences; Gender; Teaching Methods
Learning to read is considered to be one of the most impor-
tant skills in children as it enables them to achieve their goals,
develop their knowledge, and reach their potential so as to take
their rightful place in society (Statistique Canada, 2010).
In 2009, Canadian 15-year-olds ranked above average in
reading performance compared to other countries (Statistique
Canada, 2010). On the national level, nine Canadian provinces
obtained a score that was equal or superior to the OECD aver-
age, with only Prince-Edward Island obtaining a lower than
average rating. Students in Ontario and Alberta ranked the
highest among all of the Canadian provinces, followed by those
in British Columbia and Québec with average scores, and fi-
nally those in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince-Edward
Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan
(Statistique Canada, 2010).
Among these data, girls continued to far better than their
male counterparts in reading achievement. This variance was in
fact present in every Canadian province and in each country
who participated in the PISA assessments (Statistique Canada,
2010). We thus felt it of importance to investigate the causes or
factors influencing this difference between boys and girls in
Learning to read is essential early on so as to enable children
to perform well academically throughout their education but
also to come into their own in society. It is for this reason that
many scientific and education communities are looking closely
at the gap between reading achievement levels, where girls ex-
cel and boys do not (Bozack, 2011; Logan & Johnston, 2009,
2010; Watson et al., 2010; Lai, 2010; Below et al., 2010).
Generally speaking, girls are better readers and consequently
are more likely to score higher on reading tests compared to
their male peers (Bozack, 2011; Logan & Johnston, 2009, 2010;
Lai, 2010; Watson et al., 2010; Below et al., 2010; Statistique
Canada, 2010). This difference may be explained, among others,
by gender developmental differences, both physiologically and
psychologically (Below et al., 2010; Logan & Johnston, 2010).
Environmental and cultural factors such as family support and
socioeconomic status also appear to influence gender differ-
ences in regards to reading achievement (Below et al., 2010).
Furthermore, girls use the various reading strategies differ-
ently and more effectively than do boys (Logan & Johnston,
2009, 2010). Not only are their cognitive abilities different (Lo-
gan & Johnston, 2009, 2010), but girls are also more motivated
and have a more positive attitude toward reading, compared to
the opposite sex (Logan & Johnston, 2009, 2010; Below et al.,
2010; Coddington & Guthrie, 2009).
The reading interests of girls also differ from those of boys.
In fact, it appears that certain types of reading material corre-
spond better to interests specific to each sex (Moeller, 2011;
Davila & Patrick, 2010; Below et al., 2010). Allowing children
to read according to their likes and interests motivates them to
learn to read, have a more positive attitude (Logan & Medford,
2011; Davila & Patrick, 2010), and consequently, be more like-
ly to perform better in reading (Bozack, 2011).
We thus examined these gender differences pertaining to
reading interests and determined their respective reading pref-
Y. BOUCHAMMA ET AL.
erences, and in view of the results and the various teaching
practices, we investigated whether the respect of these gender
preferences influenced reading achievement.
Reading preferences are presented according to gender but
also depending on the importance of personal book choice, type
of reading material involved, ICT use, and use of library re-
sources. A discussion of the results follows, presenting the si-
milarities, differences, and possible advantages between the ac-
tual preferences of boys and girls and teaching practices.
Personal book choice. Several studies affirm that book
choice should come from the student rather than be imposed by
the teacher (Bozack, 2011; Davila & Patrick, 2010; Jenkins,
2009; Nichols & Cormack, 2009). Choosing books according to
personal interests raises students’ level of motivation, encour-
ages them to adopt a positive attitude, and perform better in this
regard (Bozack, 2011; Gibson, 2010; Davila & Patrick, 2010;
Jenkins, 2009; Nichols & Cormack, 2009; Merisuo-Storm,
2006). Boys experience this need for freedom to choose which
books to read more than girls do and feel more motivated to
read than in an imposed reading activity (Bozack, 2011; Jenkins,
2009; Nichols & Cormack, 2009). Boys also appreciate a vari-
ety of books, articles, or texts on one same subject so as to bet-
ter grasp what this reading may have to offer (Jenkins, 2009).
The same holds true for girls who also think being allowed to
choose their reading material is important; however, contrary to
boys, this is less likely to negatively affect their level of achie-
vement in reading (Bozack, 2011).
Informative texts. Boys generally prefer informative texts
such as newspaper articles, magazines, and texts pertaining to
sports, video games, or cars, to name a few (Moeller, 2011;
Davila & Patrick, 2010; Watson et al., 2010; Farris et al., 2009;
Williams, 2008; Chapman et al., 2007). They also enjoy read-
ing comic strips, joke books, and more simple reading such as
statistics on sports cards and the information on cereal boxes
(Davila & Patrick, 2010).
Boys see the point of reading when it is fact-based and en-
ables them to learn something concrete by the end of the activ-
ity (Farris et al., 2009). The informative text thus corresponds
far better to their preferences in terms of learning to read. In-
terestingly, this type of reading material is not often used in
educational practices and is even frowned upon in today’s edu-
cation curriculum (Moeller, 2011; Farris et al., 2009). Teachers
prefer to use predominantly narrative or fictional reading mate-
rial that generally corresponds much more to the values pro-
moted in the curriculum (Below et al., 2010). Unfortunately, it
appears that this literary genre rarely succeeds in satisfying the
reading interests of boys (Moeller, 2011; Watson et al., 2010;
Farris et al., 2009; Below et al., 2010).
Girls regularly read catalogues, song lyrics, poetry, and
cook-books, and also books in a series or ones involving the
same characters (Davila & Patrick, 2010). Some girls also have
reading preferences that are closer to the informative style.
Moreover, magazines for adolescent girls dealing with various
topics and interests of a more feminine nature are also part of
their preferred reading. Generally, horoscopes and comic strips
are what most girls find interesting above the other sections
(Wilson & Casey, 2007).
Predominantly fictional texts. Despite this, certain texts in
the fiction genre may interest boys (Davila & Patrick, 2010;
Koss & Teale, 2009). For this to occur, these texts must con-
tain themes that gravitate around action or science-fiction (Mo-
eller, 2011; Davila & Patrick, 2010) or fall into the category of
crime novel or thriller (Burgess & Jones, 2010; Davila & Pat-
rick, 2010; Wilson & Casey, 2007). To fully interest boys, the
focus of these texts should involve their characters in a timeline,
in action, and in various adventures (Moeller, 2011). Not only
are they more interested in the story but it is also easier for
them to follow and to understand than when the focus is on the
relationships and emotions between the characters, for example
Girls, on the other hand, tend to prefer fiction (Moeller, 2011;
Koss & Teale, 2009) in the form of thrillers, romance (Davila
& Patrick, 2010; Wilson & Casey, 2007), or mystery novels
(Burgess & Jones, 2010). In contrast to their male counter-
parts who prefer to read concrete facts in informative texts,
girls enjoy using their imagination when reading (Moeller,
2011) and view this exercise of developing creativity, while
reading predominantly fictional texts, as both fun and useful.
Moreover, both boys and girls enjoy horror stories, comedies,
and books related to movies or a television show, and both
show interest in reading the novel that inspired a movie they
recently watched at a movie theatre or at home or a popular
television show (Davila & Patrick, 2010).
Information and Communications Techno logi es
Several factors are not necessarily directly related to boys’
and girls’ reading preferences yet they provide insight on the
use of educational reading material and the respective interests
of each sex. For boys, the fact of using various information and
communications technologies to help them learn to read is a
highly significant factor in sustaining a positive level of interest
and motivation (Jenkins, 2009; Sokal & Katz, 2008; Farris et al.,
2009). Reading the teacher’s scanned texts directly on the com-
puter screen enables boys to go on the Internet to find texts or
articles corresponding to their interests and to exchange or dis-
cuss them online through various forums with peers or the tea-
cher (Jenkins, 2009; Sokal & Katz, 2008; Farris et al., 2009).
As for girls, using technology has also been shown to stimulate
their interest and motivation with regard to reading, although
this support is less considerable than what is observed in boys
(Sokal & Katz, 2008).
Access to a Libr ary
Regardless of gender, it is crucial that boys and girls have
easy access to both the school and the public library, as this en-
vironment provides an interesting support for students as they
learn to read and contributes to making reading an integral part
of regular student activities (Sanacore & Palumbo, 2010). On
the same subject, Small et al. (2009) found that school libraries
that provide appropriate access to computers and to qualified
support staff have a positive effect on student achievement.
In light of the literature, there apparently are no studies on
the preferences of boys and girls and the use of the library as a
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 485
Y. BOUCHAMMA ET AL.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
viable resource, and gender is also not a variable or factor in the
various studies pertaining to the use of libraries in regards to
Participants and Materi als
Our study used data collected from the Pan-Canadian As-
sessment Program (PCAP-13 Reading Assessment 2007) de-
veloped by the Council of Ministers of Education of Canada
(CMEC). This program collected information on 30,022 13-
year-old Canadian students representing each Canadian prov-
ince and one territory (Yukon) on three school subjects (reading,
mathematics, and science). The sample used for this study rep-
resented all of the participants who completed the reading seg-
ment of the assessment (N = 20,094; 49.1% male). Most of
these students were Native-born Canadian (93.4%) and were in
the 8th grade (70.8%) when the data was collected. Seventy-
five percent of the students in this sample identified English as
their home-spoken and first language. Among the students who
were aware of their mother’s education (N = 14,861; students
who answered “I do not know” were excluded from this statis-
tic), 69.4% revealed that their mother had at least obtained a
high school diploma.
Reading preferences. Literary preferences were measured
using questions one and three of the fifth section of the student
questionnaire. The first question: How often do the following
activities take place in your English Language Arts class? lists
nine items on a 3-point frequency scale labelled rarely or never,
sometimes, and often, while the second question: How do the
following statements apply to the reading that you do in your
English Language Arts class? houses six items on a 4-point
frequency scale (1 = not at all, 4 = a lot).
Academic achievement. This factor was determined by mea-
suring the students’ reading achievement level. This achieve-
ment level was measured by a reading task administrated to all
of the students assigned to the reading booklet test segment.
This segment focused on three reading sub-domains: compre-
hension, interpretation, and response to text. Students were as-
sessed on each of the three scales with a raw score awarded by
the scoring administration team, table leaders, and scorers (tea-
chers). These scores were then converted into a standard score
ranging from 0 to 1000. An average score was subsequently
calculated to appropriately assign each student to one of the
three reading performance levels established by the reading pa-
nel of educators across Canada. Students with a score of 379 or
lower were assigned to level 1, designating a performance level
below that expected of same-age students; students who obtain-
ed a score between 380 and 575 were assigned to level 2 as ha-
ving an acceptable level of performance; and students with a
score of 576 or higher were assigned to level 3, designating an
overall higher achievement reading level than that expected
from same-age students. For the purpose of this study, students
from levels 2 and 3 were combined to form the “success” group,
while level 1 was used to designate the “failure” group.
Table 1 presents the results of an independent sample t-test
used to compare the reading preferences in 13-year-old male
and female students. The t-test results show significant gender
Reading preferences by gender.
Section 5, question 1: How often do the following activities take place in
your French/or English class? M SD M SD t DL
a) Reading the course textbook 1.83 0.71 1.81 0.72 2.088* 19,432.446
b) Reading newspapers or magazines 1.53 0.64 1.50 0.63 3.271** 19,311.655
c) Reading novels or fiction 2.35 0.65 2.48 0.60 −14.302*** 19,130.005
d) Reading informative or non-fiction texts 2.10 0.63 2.17 0.63 −8.541*** 19,354.869
e) Reading documents found on the Internet 1.68 0.65 1.64 0.65 4.446*** 19,402.334
f) Using on-line encyclopedias or other electronic documents accessed by signing up 1.41 0.59 1.36 0.57 5.967*** 19,260.496
g) Viewing videos, DVDs, or going to the movies 1.61 0.64 1.56 0.63 5.196*** 19,409
h) Reading books or other texts from the school library 1.93 0.68 2.03 0.70 −10.052*** 19,400
i) Reading books or other texts from the local library 1.39 0.60 1.41 0.69 −2.068* 19,404.313
Section 5, question 3: How do the following statements apply to the reading
that you do in your Eng li sh class? M SD M SD t DL
a) What we read in class is more for girls than it is for boys 1.48 0.78 1.31 0.62 16.977*** 18,053.788
b) What we read in class is more for boys than it is for girls 1.38 0.67 1.28 0.58 11.513*** 18,651.380
c) What we read in class interests me 2.09 0.84 2.28 0.80 −16.252*** 19,178.647
d) What we read in the other classes is harder than what we read in French class 1.68 0.85 1.70 0.83 −1.931 19,186.206
e) I participate in the discussions in my English class 2.63 0.92 2.67 0.91 −2.887** 19,294
f) I am behind in my reading assignments 1.71 0.90 1.51 0.79 16.488*** 18,761.693
Y. BOUCHAMMA ET AL.
differences in all of the activities. Compared to their male peers,
the female students reported lower self-exposure to reading ac-
tivities such as reading a textbook (t (19,432.446) = 2.088, p <
0.05), magazines or newspapers (t (19,311.655) = 3.271, p <
0.01), and material found on the Internet (t (19,402.334) =
4.446, p < 0.001), using on-line encyclopaedias or other elec-
tronic subscriptions (t (19,260.496) = 5.967, p < 0.001), and
watching videos or DVDs or going to the movies (t (19,409) =
5.196, p < 0.001). Again, compared to the male students, the
female students revealed being much more interested in reading
in school (t (19,178.647) = −16.488, p < 0.001) and participated
more in English Language Arts class discussions (t (19,294) =
−2.887, p < 0.01).
In contrast, the male students revealed lower self-exposure to
such reading activities as reading novels or short stories (fiction)
(t (19,130.005) = −14.302, p < 0.001), informative or non-fic-
tion texts (t (19,354.869) = −8.541, p < 0.001), books or other
reading material from the school library (t (19,400) = −10.052,
p < 0.001), or public library (t (19,404.313) = −2.068, p < 0.05).
Furthermore, despite feeling that what they read in class was
much more appropriate for girls than for them (t (18,053.788) =
16.977, p < 0.001), some boys stated the opposite (t
(18,651.380) = 11.513, p < 0.001). They also reported a higher
score over the girls, considering that the texts they read in other
classes were harder than those in the English Language Arts
class (t (18,761.693) = 16.488, p < 0.001).
Tables 2 and 3 present the determinant factors of reading
achievement by gender. Variables were simultaneously inserted
into the logistic regression model to identify the best indicators
of boys’ and girls’ academic achievement. Although each sex
was analyzed individually, the results were the same. Of all of
the predictors, five were present as significant determinant
factors of academic achievement for both groups. Read novels
or short stories (fiction) (Boys: β = 0.43; p < .001; C. I. = 1.40 -
1.67; OR = 1.529; Girls: β = 0.32; p < .001; C. I. = 1.24 - 1.54;
OR = 1.381), read information or non-fiction material (Boys: β
= 0.25; p < .001; C. I. = 1.16 - 1.42; OR = 1.284; Girls: β = 0.40;
p < .001; C. I. = 1.34 - 1.67; OR = 1.493), and read books or
other material from the school library (Boys: β = 0.15; p < .001;
C. I. = 1.06 - 1.28; OR = 1.167; Girls: β = 0.16; p < .01; C. I. =
1.07 - 1.30; OR = 1.177) had a favorable effect on performance
for both sexes. The results of these analyses revealed that
achievement was positively predicted by the interest both
groups showed in the reading activities done in school (boys: β
= 0.24; p < .001; C. I. = 1.18 - 1.36; OR = 1.264; girls: β = 0.23;
p < .001; C. I. = 1.16 - 1.37; OR = 1.261) and by the level of
participation in class discussions in English class (Boys: β =
0.33; p < .001; C. I. = 1.31 - 1.49; OR = 1.397; Girls: β = 0.18;
p < .001; C. I. = 1.11 - 1.29; OR = 1.193).
Reading Interests by Gender
Our results indicate that the girls showed less interest in
reading textbooks, magazines, newspapers, or articles found on
the Internet, while the boys were more inclined to read elec-
tronic encyclopedias and to watch movies. These findings con-
cur with those of several recent studies on the subject (Moeller,
2011; Davila & Patrick, 2010; Watson et al., 2010; Farris et al.,
2009; Williams, 2008; Chapman et al., 2007). We also found
that the girls were more likely to read novels or fictional stories
and material from either a public or a school library. That girls
outnumbered boys in reading novels and fiction is in agreement
with the findings of Moeller (2011) and Koss and Teale (2009).
Determinant factors of boys’ reading achievement.
Predictive variables B (SE) Wald OR 95% C. I.
Constant 1.50 (0.15) 95.172*** 4.495 3.32 - 6.08
Read a textbook −0.01 (0.04) 0.013 0.995 0.92 - 1.08
Read magazines or newspapers −0.26 (0.05) 31.436*** 0.775 0.71 - 0.85
Read novels or short stories (fiction) 0.43 (0.05) 83.730*** 1.529 1.40 - 1.67
Read informational or non-fiction texts 0.25 (0.05) 24.561*** 1.284 1.16 - 1.42
Read material found on the Internet 0.04 (0.05) 0.762 1.045 0.95 - 1.15
Use on-line encyclopedias or other electronic subscriptions −0.35 (0.05) 46.053*** 0.702 0.63 - 0.78
Watch videos or DVDs or go to the movies −0.28 (0.04) 39.674*** 0.757 0.69 - 0.83
Read books or other material from the school library 0.15 (0.05) 10.724*** 1.167 1.06 - 1.28
Read books or other material from the public library −0.29 (0.05) 34.919*** 0.746 0.68 - 0.82
Constant 1.94 (0.12) 248.595*** 6.962 5.47 - 8.86
The reading we do in school is more for girls than it is for boys −0.15 (0.04) 14.506*** 0.861 0.80 - 0.93
The reading we do in school is more for boys than it is for girls −0.44 (0.05) 97.851*** 0.643 0.59 - 0.70
The reading we do in school interests me 0.24 (0.04) 40.441*** 1.264 1.18 - 1.36
The reading we do in other classes is harder than in English Language Arts −0.16 (0.03) 23.923*** 0.850 0.80 - 0.91
I participate in class discussions in English Language Arts 0.33 (0.03) 104.342*** 1.397 1.31 - 1.49
I am behind in homework that involves reading −0.30 (0.03) 103.073*** 0.739 0.70 - 0.78
Note: N = 9695. ***p < 0.001.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 487
Y. BOUCHAMMA ET AL.
Determinant factors of girls’ reading achievement.
Predictive variables B (SE) Wald OR 95% C. I.
Constant 2.20 (0.19) 130.012*** 9.049 6.20 - 13.21
Read a textbook −0.13 (0.05) 8.431** 0.876 0.80 - 0.96
Read magazines or newspapers −0.20 (0.05) 15.433*** 0.815 0.74 - 0.90
Read novels or short stories (fiction) 0.32 (0.06) 34.057*** 1.381 1.24 - 1.54
Read informational or non-fiction texts 0.40 (0.06) 50.910*** 1.493 1.34 - 1.67
Read material found on the Internet −0.21 (0.06) 14.614*** 0.808 0.72 - 0.90
Use on-line encyclopedias or other electronic subscriptions −0.33 (0.06) 31.746*** 0.721 0.64 - 0.81
Watch videos or DVDs or go to the movies −0.21 (0.05) 17.466*** 0.808 0.73 - 0.89
Read books or other material from the school library 0.16 (0.05) 10.047** 1.177 1.07 - 1.30
Read books or other material from the public library −0.27 (0.05) 24.937*** 0.766 0.69 - 0.85
Constant 2.579 (0.16) 271.634*** 13.181 9.71 - 17.90
The reading we do in school is more for girls than it is for boys −0.30 (0.05) 32.494*** 0.738 0.67 - 0.82
The reading we do in school is more for boys than it is for girls −0.20 (0.06) 12.881*** 0.816 0.73 - 0.91
The reading we do in school interests me 0.23 (0.04) 28.884*** 1.261 1.16 - 1.37
The reading we do in other classes is harder than in English Language Arts −0.12 (0.04) 10.119*** 0.884 0.82 - 0.96
I participate in class discussions in English Language Arts 0.18 (0.04) 22.125*** 1.193 1.11 - 1.29
I am behind in homework that involves reading −0.36 (0.04) 101.361*** 0.695 0.65 - 0.75
Note: N = 10,048. ***p < 0.001.
The boys stated that they enjoyed reading magazines, news-
papers, articles found on the Internet, and encyclopedias, and
did not enjoy reading informative or non-fiction material. This
represents a contradiction in the boys’ answers with regard to
their reading preferences in the informative text category.
When asked directly whether they liked this type of reading (in-
formative), the answer was generally no, and yet they claimed
enjoying magazines, newspapers, and encyclopedias, all of
which are informative in nature. Future research should exam-
ine this contradiction in the boys’ responses to the question-
The Impact on Reading Achievement
Our results show that the achievement indicators related to
reading preferences were the same for both sexes. The most
significant indicators were reading novels or fictional texts,
informative reading or non-fiction, and reading books or other
texts from the school library. In-class reading and participation
in discussions pertaining to school-related reading were also
shown to enhance reading achievement.
These results are somewhat surprising in that research docu-
menting this subject mainly emphasizes the use of pedagogical
material corresponding to the interests/needs of students to
foster achievement in reading (Moeller, 2011; Davila & Patrick,
2010; Koss & Teale, 2009; Farris et al., 2009). With identical
determinants for both sexes, differentiation by gender thus ap-
pears to have no significant impact on reading achievement. It
would therefore be of interest to examine variables other than
gender, such as socioeconomic origin or language spoken in the
home, to better identify gender differences in reading abilities.
Teaching Practices and Reading Achievement
Having identified the various reading preferences of boys
and girls and their association with reading achievement, we
took a closer look at current educational practices in this regard.
How we teach reading is particularly important because it is
directly associated with student outcomes (Hairrell et al., 2011;
Clanet, 2010; Palumbo & Sanacore, 2009). Our analysis hope-
fully sheds light on the similarities and differences between
existing practices and the actual reading interests of boys and
girls which may help to improve teaching methods in this re-
In-Class Reading Material
The choice of texts read in class is one of several teaching
methods associated with reading achievement. Our analysis of
the Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP) data involving
4446 teachers shows that at least one out of three teachers used
narrative texts (M = 2.78), followed by informative texts (M =
2.46), poetry (M = 2.30), persuasive texts (M = 2.24), dramatic
texts (M = 2.09), and finally, procedural texts (M = 1.78).
Our review of the literature shows that reading outcomes
differ greatly between the two sexes (Bozack, 2011; Logan &
Johnston, 2009, 2010; Watson et al., 2010; Lai, 2010; Below et
al., 2010), as do their reading preferences (Moeller, 2011; Da-
vila & Patrick, 2010; Below et al., 2010). The choices teachers
make with regard to what is read in class thus have an enor-
mous impact on the success of their students; teachers must
therefore address the reading needs and interests of both sexes.
We found that narrative reading material (first choice among
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Y. BOUCHAMMA ET AL.
teachers) rarely appeal to boys (Moeller, 2011; Watson et al.,
2010; Below et al., 2010), although they have been shown to
somewhat enjoy certain fictional texts (Davila & Patrick, 2010;
Koss & Teale, 2009). Teachers who wish to continue using
narrative reading material may consider providing books that
contain more adventures or science-fiction content, or that fall
into the category of thrillers or crime novels (Moeller, 2011;
Davila & Patrick, 2010; Burgess & Jones, 2010).
To find the informative text in second place is interesting, as
many boys particularly enjoy this type of reading material (Mo-
eller, 2011; Davila & Patrick, 2010; Watson et al., 2010; Farris
et al., 2009). To help boys improve their reading skills, it is
thus critical that this category, including encyclopedias, news-
papers, and magazines, be both preserved and encouraged in
class. Teachers too easily dismiss this genre as not correspond-
ing to the values promoted in the school curriculum (Below et
al., 2010). And yet, it is precisely this type of reading which
boys find both concrete and appealing (Farris et al., 2009).
Finally, the fact that poetic texts were ranked as the third
most preferred reading material among boys does not signifi-
cantly influence their outcomes in reading. In fact, this genre
does not correspond to their reading preferences (Davila &
Patrick, 2010). A judicious use of poetry is thus recommended
and should be combined with other types of text so as to ensure
variety, as well as to help boys maintain a positive attitude to-
ward their reading abilities and remain motivated in this regard.
For the girls, the popularity of the narrative text is excellent
news, as this is the literary genre most preferred by the majority
of girls, according to several authors (Moeller, 2011; Davila &
Patrick, 2010; Burgess & Jones, 2010; Koss & Teale, 2009). By
proposing narrative texts such as thrillers, romance, or mystery
novels, teachers will provide girls with what they enjoy reading
the most (Davila & Patrick, 2010; Burgess & Jones, 2010; Wil-
son & Casey, 2007). Some girls enjoy informative texts by
reading magazines, newspaper articles and song lyrics on a re-
gular basis (Davila & Patrick, 2010). Here again, the fact that
this type of reading material ranked second among those most
used in the classroom also favors the reading outcomes of girls.
The same goes for poetry, as girls enjoy this genre more than
boys do (Davila & Patrick, 2010).
Differentiated Teaching Practices
The PCAP data analyzed also favored boys in the type of
reading material provided in class (average of 2.31), followed
by texts specifically for boys (2.26), texts specifically for girls
(2.20), and texts for the entire class but adapted more for girls
(2.07). Lastly, teachers differentiated their practices to meet the
needs and interests of both sexes (1.86).
These data highlight the importance of choosing the appro-
priate strategies when teaching children how to read. Our lit-
erature review shows that girls perform better than do their
male counterparts when reading is proposed (Bozack, 2011)
and that respecting the reading preferences and interests of boys
has a more positive impact on their motivation and attitude (Bo-
zack, 2011; Jenkins, 2009; Nichols & Cormack, 2009). The fact
that Canadian teachers appear to respect boys’ reading prefer-
ences shows a certain acknowledgement of the problem and the
desire to encourage reading achievement for both sexes. How-
ever, in doing so, achievement in girls is not maximized. Stud-
ies on the subject have shown that respecting the reading pref-
erences of girls also has a positive impact on their outcomes
in reading (Bozack, 2011). It thus appears that the ideal teach-
ing method is the one that allows students to choose the reading
material, as both sexes ultimately choose texts that better suit
their individual interests.
Interestingly, as indicated in Table 1, differentiating teaching
practices for reading according to each gender’s preferences is
far from unanimous among Canadian teachers, despite the fact
that this solution appears to be among those that satisfy the
needs and interests of each sex the most in terms of reading
achievement. Several studies tend to show that this individual-
ized practice is critical when achievement by gender is con-
cerned (Lai, 2010; Calvin et al., 2010; Logan & Johnston, 2010;
Haworth et al., 2010).
Library Resources as a Teaching Strategy
According to the literature, to improve their reading skills,
students must have access to a library (Sanacore & Palumbo,
2009; Small et al., 2009). But are library resources truly an in-
tegral part of teaching practices?
In a study on teaching practices, Al-Barakat and Bataineh
(2011) found that the fact of having a library in the classroom
has a positive influence on the level of interest and reading
achievement, as does the school library or public library. A
solid professional collaboration between teachers and librarians
appears to be another significant factor, as it enables students to
fully exercise their knowledge in terms of reading skills (Roux,
2008). This relationship, however, does not always exist be-
tween teachers and school professionals. Some schools may
lack personnel in charge of library resources, or it may be that
teachers are simply not inclined to collaborate with the other
professionals in the school (Roux, 2008), even if, thanks to
these school members, students are able to greatly benefit from
the different documentary, media, and technological resources
provided by the school and public libraries (Roux, 2008). Tea-
chers should thus strongly encourage library use during school
hours and invite their students to visit their neighbourhood li-
brary to seek out new documentary sources for their school
assignments, or simply to find books and other reading material
suited to their interests.
Integrating ICTs within the Pedagogical Content
In the realm of reading acquisition, information and commu-
nications technologies (ICTs) have been shown to be highly
useful in helping students learn to read (Chen et al., 2011; Al-
Barakat & Bataineh; 2011; Means, 2010; Lopez, 2010). What
remains now is whether teachers make full use of these avail-
able resources, such as reading on the computer screen, re-
search on the Internet, discussion forums on specific topics, etc.
It appears that an increasing number of teachers use these re-
sources for the benefit of their students and the latter’s achi-
evement in reading (Chen et al., 2011; Means, 2010; Lopez,
2010). Lopez (2010) discovered a strong correlation between
student outcomes and the use of the interactive whiteboard in
the classroom, while Means (2010) revealed the positive reper-
cussions of using software when teaching mathematics and
In other studies, highly promising results have been obtained
by using discussion forums, where the topics concerned both
at-home and in-class reading activities, as well as the Internet to
have students read directly on the computer rather than by con-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 489
Y. BOUCHAMMA ET AL.
ventional means. Also emerging in the classroom are laptops
which are increasingly used for reading activities (Jenkins,
2009; Sokal & Katz, 2008; Farris et al., 2009). In other words,
today’s educators are looking to integrate new technologies
within their teaching practices pertaining to literacy. In light of
what we learned from the literature review, these are very sig-
nificant results, as boys and girls are both very open to the pre-
sence of different media in the classroom setting (Jenkins, 2009;
Sokal & Katz, 2008; Farris et al., 2009).
On the other hand, these findings do not agree with those of
Slavin et al. (2011), who found no conclusive impact by the
practice of using computers to enhance reading performance.
Chen et al. (2011) also found no positive association between
the use of new technologies and academic achievement but ra-
ther an increased interest and motivation to learn (Chen et al.,
2011; Jenkins, 2009; Farris et al., 2009). While it remains un-
clear whether ICTs have a direct influence on student outcomes,
they nevertheless do stimulate the students’ interest and moti-
Letting Students Choos e (Independent Reading)
Our review of the literature highlights the importance of let-
ting students choose certain texts to be studied in class, re-
searched, or used in a test. Students also appreciate reading pe-
riods during which they are free to read what they like (Bo-
zack, 2011; Gibson, 2010; Davila & Patrick, 2010; Jenkins,
2009; Nichols & Cormack, 2009; Merisuo-Storm, 2006). We
now know that boys are not only more motivated to read when
they are allowed to choose their own books or texts but they
ultimately perform better (Bozack, 2011; Gibson, 2010; Davila
& Patrick, 2010), and that girls also like to choose their read-
ing material and are less likely to be negatively affected than
their male counterparts when the reading material is imposed
by the teacher (Bozack, 2011; Jenkins, 2009; Nichols & Cor-
Many teachers allow their students to choose their books or
texts. Giordano (2011) and Meyer (2010) reported that various
reading activities regularly take place in the form of workshops,
where the students are asked to choose books that interest them
and that correspond to their specific needs during predeter-
mined study periods and according to a prearranged system
established by the teacher. Both of these authors emphasize that
the book collection must be varied to include books that appeal
to the reading preferences of each student (Giordano, 2011;
Individual and Group Tutoring
According to Slavin (2011), individual tutoring is particu-
larly effective in improving reading performance. The models
that obtain the best results are phonetics-based methods, despite
the fact that this approach is costly. One solution often used by
schools to help students is group tutoring (student sub-groups),
although this practice has not obtained the same positive results
as the individual approach has.
The Process-Based Approach
Cooperative learning appears to be effective with students
who have difficulty reading. In this approach, students learn
from each other by explaining their understanding of what they
have read, with the teacher serving as guide throughout the
process (Slavin et al., 2011).
In this study, we identified the reading preferences of boys
and girls. Our results show that boys are more interested in
reading classroom textbooks, magazines, newspaper articles,
and articles found on the Internet, and are more inclined to read
electronic encyclopedias and to watch movies, while girls pre-
fer reading novels, fiction, and books from the school or local
Among these preferences, we also identified those that de-
termine reading achievement, which in fact are the same for
both boys and girls: reading novels or fiction, informative or
non-fiction texts, and books or other reading material from the
school library. Reading activities performed in class and the
students’ participation in discussions pertaining to these reading
activities are also significant in improving outcomes in reading.
It must be noted that our analysis of the respective achieve-
ment of boys and girls considered neither their personal, socio-
economic, and cultural characteristics, nor those of the schools.
Further studies should address certain control variables to in-
terpret the results according to social or language groups (Fran-
cophones, Anglophones, Allophones, & Native), socioecono-
mic and cultural status, student history, etc. We also empha-
size that these data were taken from a questionnaire and are
representative of Canadian students, their reading preferences,
and their respective outcomes. The questions focused on the
frequency of use of the various texts read in class without delv-
ing into their contents, which may be the subject of future qua-
Our conclusions may have significant practical implications
for teachers and other education professionals who strive to
help students improve their reading skills. To address these needs
and to fully stimulate their students’ interest in reading, teach-
ers must provide them with a greater variety of reading material
that better corresponds to their preferences.
Teachers must also connect their in-class activities with the
proposed assignments/homework. Our results show for exam-
ple that using library resources is something both boys and girls
generally enjoy, thus students may be asked to visit the school
or local library to do research or to borrow relevant documents
for an assignment.
Finally, it is in the interest of educators to know that they do
not necessarily have to use differentiation by literary genre when
choosing reading material for their class. Our findings indicate
that this method shows no indication of improving reading
achievement in boys and girls. It is rather by individualized
learning that teachers will come to maximize their students’
outcomes in reading.
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