Journal of Education & Social Policy

ISSN 2375-0782 (Print) 2375-0790 (Online)

Need Help Choosing Good Books for Students? A Book Selection Study, Book Selection Checklist, and a Discussion of How Educators Can Select Books that Engage Young Readers of Color and Possibly Improve Reading Achievement
Beth Kara Dawkins, Ph.D.

Abstract
This study examined book selection strategies of young African American and Latino readers from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, with the intent of uncovering more information about the content of books these students find engaging. As national achievement data show, African American and Latino students, and individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are scoring below level in reading (NAEP, 2009; 2011), and the ultimate goal of this inquiry was to gain insight towards closing the reading achievement gap for these students. A mixed-methods study using qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis strategies was conducted with 160 kindergarten students in the Southern region of the United States, and informing the study was a prior international experience in Albania, Eastern Europe. Results indicated that students select books that contain well-developed story content as well as culturally-relevant content, and emerging from the study is a book selection checklist that educators can use to select quality literature for young readers. Although the study focused on specific groups of students, the results can be utilized across many cultures and groups of students.

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