Reading habits of grade 6 pre-adolescents at a primary school in Ottawa, KwaZulu-Natal.
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Studies have found that South African students lack adequate literacy skills. The problem may stem from a lack of reading material in vernacular languages, the language barrier, educators not being trained to teach literacy and the absence of libraries in some schools and communities. As a teacher of English, I wanted to explore and understand the reading materials which appealed to students and which they read, and their reasons for reading. The interpretive paradigm was used in this study with a qualitative approach. Three data collection instruments were used to bring about triangulation and they included an open-ended questionnaire, written document (reading log) and a visual document (poster). The questionnaire and the poster were administered to the 39 students at school; however, since the reading log entailed students keeping a record of everything they read over a two day period, students had to complete it at home. The study was underpinned by the theory of motivation with a specific focus on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The findings of the study revealed that the students at Dreamwood Primary read many texts which included: newspapers, school books, magazines, comic books, novels, religious books, posters/ charts, advertisements, mail, TV guide, T-shirts, and subtitles on television. Students read for several reasons. Some reasons include: learning for school purposes, completing homework, and because of their parents or educators instructing them to read. Other reasons for reading include: because they were bored, and/or wanted to pass the time. The findings are important as they revealed the materials the students enjoyed reading, and thus may be included in subsequent teaching and learning. However, since students read mostly to achieve good results, it is possible that educators are focussing on students reading for extrinsic motivation rather than reading for enjoyment (intrinsic motivation). Teachers may need to inculcate and foreground a love for reading and reading for pleasure in classrooms.