While we only needed to interview one youth, I had so much fun that I ended up talking with four different students, two males and two females. I spoke with each of them separately and tried to seek out students who are in different social circles to see what differences I would get with their responses. Below are some of the most interesting findings.
- All four of the students I spoke with said that they read for pleasure as time allows with their studies. They deeply enjoy their personal reading, but rarely enjoy assigned readings for school. In fact, the only assigned reading that was talked about in a positive light was two students agreed that they liked Of Mice and Men.
- In terms of what the students choose to read on their own, there was a range of responses. One student likes popular titles such as Perks of Being a Wallflower and works by John Green and Rainbow Rowell. Another student prefers manga and comics, and yet another discussed liking fantasy novels and recently enjoyed The Last Dogs: The Vanishing, which is an animal-based fantasy.
- Three of the four students said that they enjoy reading series. The ones they named are: a manga series Tsubasa, Riordan's Percy Jackson series, and the Twilight series.
- The students varied in terms of their ideas about what influences their reading. Most said that they don't read reviews, except one said he reads them on Amazon. Two said that they generally rely on recommendations from friends, both in-person and online on social media. One, though, mentioned that she actually avoids books recommended to her by peers, because she is skeptical of what other people like. Three of the four said that they don't choose books based on the covers, but that they are influenced by titles and summaries on the covers.
- All four said that they have a personal collection of print books at home and that they enjoy buying them from physical bookstores such as Barnes and Noble. All four said that they read print "regular" books, but that they will also read on electronic devices. One uses a Kindle, one uses an iPad, and two use their phones. They use a mix of apps including iBooks, Open eBooks (thanks to our school library setup!), and Wattpad, although only one student said he reads mostly on an electronic device.
- Two of the four student regularly check out books from the school library, but none of them said that they use the public library. One student explained that she prefers the school library books, because she has found that the public library books are often in poor shape with pages missing, etc. Along these lines, one of the non-library using students explained he is very particular about reading books that are pristine and so a book that is "used" makes him cringe while reading - he is also the student who reads mostly ebooks.
- Regarding Wattpad, three of the four students spoke about having read extensively on Wattpad. One student, in particular, is a heavy Wattpad user and engages as both a reader and writer. This student explained that reading serves as the foundation for worlds that she creates in her head for her writing. I know of Wattpad, but I haven't done much reading on it. Now I am inspired to check it out more. I was particularly intrigued by a student mentioning how she likes "reader-insert" or "x-reader." Having never heard of these terms before, I asked her to explain the idea to me, and she detailed how it is writing that places the reader as the protagonist. There are conventions that have developed such as using "Y/N" to indicate when the reader should insert "your name." I find this interesting and exciting that young writers are creating new narrative techniques and forms!
- Finally, the answer that really touched me was when I asked "How would you describe your perfect book?" One student immediately replied that it would be the description of The Secret Garden and A Little Princess. She explained how these are personal favorites that she read "during my days of solitude." The books helped her during this time, and to me, this so powerfully demonstrates the meaningful impact that reading can make in people's lives.