Independent Reading: The Relationship of Challenge, Non-Fiction and Gender to Achievement

Multiple schools, Multiple cities, Alabama (AL), Arizona (AZ), Arkansas (AR), California (CA), Colorado (CO), Delaware (DE), Georgia (GA), Idaho (ID), Illinois (IL), Kentucky (KY), Louisiana (LA), Michigan (MI), Mississippi (MS), Missouri (MO), Nebraska (NE), New Mexico (NM), North Carolin


DETAILS: Location: 24 U.S. states; Design: Independent, correlational, peer-reviewed; Sample: 45,670 students in grades 1-12 at 139 schools; Measure: Star Reading; Duration: 1 school year.

RESULTS: To explore whether different balances of fiction/nonfiction reading and challenge might help explain differences in reading achievement between genders, data on students who independently read more than 3 million books were analyzed. Moderate (rather than high or low) levels of challenge were positively associated with achievement gain, but nonfiction was generally more challenging than fiction. Nonfiction reading was negatively correlated with successful comprehension and reading achievement gain. Overall, boys appeared to read less than girls, but proportionately more nonfiction. In the upper grades, boys also had lower reading achievement than girls. Differences between classes in promoting successful comprehension of nonfiction were evident, suggesting intervention could improve achievement. Implications for research and practice were explored.

PLEASE NOTE: Email to request a copy of this peer-reviewed journal article: Topping, K. J., Samuels, J., & Paul, T. (2008). Independent reading: The relationship of challenge, non-fiction and gender to achievement. British Educational Research Journal, 34(4), 505-524.

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