Throughout their schooling, children and young adults hear from their teachers how important it is to read fiction. Many times, parents and other adults close to these youths share this opinion. School policy documents and the editorial pages of major newspapers also highlight this. But what do young people themselves really say? And where can a student perspective on reading lead the discussion on didactics?
This report is based on a student perspective of reading fiction. In this empirical investigation, the results of three tasks carried out in national tests in the 2000s by upper secondary students in their final year of studies are analysed and compared. The students, who wrote essays, reflected in their texts on their reading based on different perspectives. In the analysis, the students’ arguments for and against the reading of fiction were systematically categorised and divided into groups. Their arguments were then related to reception theory and analysed in the report based on four main concepts:
identity, interpretive communities, literary repertoire and literary competence. These concepts are integral to the general questions in the report on receptive processes and personal development in connection with reading. The concepts constitute a framework in a concluding section on didactics, with the results of the empirical study transformed into arguments about didactics and practical pedagogy.
The investigation shows that the different tasks in the test have served as arenas for different types of readers and reading but that all groups describe transformative, meaning-creating processes. As for the question of identity and personal development, the investigation indicates that belonging to an upper secondary study programme and over time belonging to a class guide a person’s view of reading material and the act of reading in a way that shapes identity, where the question of fiction or non-fiction can be seen as a clear example. In the concluding section on didactics, a number of possible ways of working in the classroom are proposed based on these results, with the emphasis on students having a different approach to reading than the academic approach. The most important conclusion of this investigation is that reading fiction really plays a role and can be made meaningful for all groups of students.
Uppsala: Kph, Trycksaksbolaget , 2013. , 91 p.