Purpose

I’ve always found purpose interesting. I’ve often begun research papers for school with one purpose in mind, and I discover that my purpose was not what I really wanted to discover. For example, as an undergrad I wanted to do an analysis of the history of our student newspaper. However, during my research I interviewed someone who was on the editorial staff of said paper, and discovered a whole world of race relations embedded in the text. (Students would print ads signaling where desegregated parties were being held because that sort of thing was frowned upon. It was by far one of the coolest things I’ve ever learned.) So the scope and purpose of my research went from chronicling a history to looking at the paper itself for evidence of racial divide from the papers inception up through the 70s.

I’ve done some research on reluctant readers before, and I’m very interested in finding out more. Perhaps because I know my son would have been a reluctant reader based on personality alone, but I have managed to foster a love of books in him. But I began slowly, and I always make sure I think carefully about what he likes and don’t limit him. I remember a paper I read once…a letter to teachers, really…that chastised teachers and parents for having rigid requirements on what children read. “The book must be 100 pages long and be at least a level 4.0 on the AR scale!” And when I read this article, my eyes opened up, because I was once guilty of doing that same thing to my child, and he wasn’t a fan of reading.

Fast forward a few years, and he has the most AR points in his class because he’s constantly reading. Whether he picks up a magazine, a graphic novel, a picture book or a novel, I’m just happy to see a book in his hand.

So when I first began my research into reluctant readers a few years ago, I began with people like my son in mind…how to affect those minds. And, honestly, they’re hard to research. There isn’t a lot of focus on them, and what focus I found was very limited.

But I found a wealth of information on reluctant readers with lower literacy, and my interest was caught. People like my son have a chance, because they have parents and/or teachers who offer encouragement. Often adolescents with low literacy are caught in a vicious cycle – they are forced to read on a level they have not yet achieved, and so therefore they hate reading (or are embarrassed to admit they have trouble with it). Therefore, their literacy levels never increase because they avoid reading, but the literacy level they’re expected to achieve continues to get higher. And this doesn’t affect just their reading test grades, but it can affect their lives later on, when they consider college or look for a job that doesn’t require manual labor.

Quite honestly, I’d like to make my life’s work focused on studying both issues. But for the purpose of this study, I’m going to have to pick one and stick with it, because otherwise the topic would be way too broad.

Analysis will be the most difficult part, but I’ll write about that later…

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