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'Recipe Fictions...Literary Fast Food?' Reading Interests in Year 8

Peter Benton
Oxford Review of Education
Vol. 21, No. 1 (Mar., 1995), pp. 99-111
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1050796
Page Count: 13
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'Recipe Fictions...Literary Fast Food?' Reading Interests in Year 8
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Abstract

This article draws on a survey of pupils' reading habits undertaken with a representative sample of 729 year 8 (12-13-year-old) pupils in 14 comprehensive schools located in a shire county in southern central England. The background to the survey and its relationship to Whitehead's (1977) work are discussed with particular reference to the changed situation of the 1990s and the impact of electronic media. The findings suggest a continuing downward trend in the amount of fiction read by boys of this age. Although the number of books read by girls seems to be slightly on the increase, there appears to be a qualitative change in the type of fiction they read. The marked contrast between the books chosen in the course of one month's voluntary reading by pupils in 1994 and those chosen in 1971, when Whitehead gathered his data, is discussed. The virtual disappearance of the old classic canon of young people's reading is noted and discussed as is the dominance of American teenage horror novels at the present time. The decline in the reading of recent 'modern classic' fiction is suggested as a possible cause for concern.

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