An exploration of the reading choices of grade 4 learners in a public primary school in KwaZulu-Natal.
The advent of technology, especially the electronic media, heralded a new era of communication. Together with this boom came a host of reading challenges that has affected the learner and learner performance in the classroom. In the PIRLS report (2006) an emergence of a “non-reading” culture was noted as a result of poor performance by learners in South Africa. This research aims to explore the reading choices of grade 4 learners and why they choose to read what they read. The research was conducted at a public primary school in the Chatsworth region in KwaZulu Natal. This research used the qualitative case study approach which is set within the interpretivist paradigm. The main source of data generation was the semi-structured interviews of five learners and their respective parents. In addition to this method, two structured observations were conducted: observations of the reading- for- pleasure lessons and the LRE lessons. To conclude the data collection, a case scenario, where the learners created their own reading room, was used. This multi-pronged approach was adopted to fill in the information gaps and omissions that arose from the interviews. The analysis of the data indicates the following: girls read more frequently than boys, newspapers form the bulk of the reading at home, billboards are an interesting addition to their reading list, girls are intrinsically motivated. Findings show that the electronic media require higher levels of literacy skills to access the highly- textual society of the workplace. It becomes imperative that reading be motivated, taught and encouraged. The definition of literacy by the school and the home should be revisited and reviewed so that learners are not disadvantaged. Furthermore, the teachers and the librarians will thus have a greater degree of flexibility in selecting reading materials for the classroom and the library respectively. It becomes vitally important that we heed the warning of Alvermann (2001, p. 680) who argues that “the possibility that as a culture we are making struggling readers out of some adolescents who for any number of reasons have turned their backs on a version of literacy called school literacy is a sobering thought”