The Relations of Children's Perceived Support for Recreational Reading from Parents and Friends to Their Motivation for Reading

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2008-11-17

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This study investigated children's perceived support for their recreational reading from their mothers, fathers, and friends in relation to their reading motivation and habits. Models from the reading domain, including the engagement model of reading (Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000) and McKenna's (1994) model of reading attitude acquisition guided the study, as well as theories from the broader study of motivation, including self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000a) and expectancy-value theory [Eccles (Parsons) et al., 1983]. The study focused on children in the upper elementary grades, as relatively little research has examined the role that socialization agents play in this age group's reading motivation and activity.

Participants, who included 130 fourth-graders and 172 fifth-graders, completed the newly developed Reading Support Survey (RSS) and surveys of their reading motivation and habits. Scores on three reading achievement indicators were obtained. Seven hypotheses were tested, six of which were partially or fully substantiated. Paired sample comparisons that examined individual RSS items indicated that children perceived greater reading support from their mothers than their fathers and friends in several regards. Factor analysis demonstrated the multidimensionality of perceived reading support. Four dimensions were apparent, but differed from those predicted in that support type was an organizing element as much as support source. Girls perceived greater friend support than boys, and fourth-graders reported receiving more books as presents than fifth-graders. Girls and fourth-graders showed somewhat more positive profiles of reading motivation and frequency. Each of the four dimensions of reading support correlated significantly with at least three of five reading motivation dimensions and three of four reading frequency variables studied. Moreover, multiple regression analyses indicated that parent and friend support contributed uniquely to the prediction of reading motivation and frequency, controlling for reading achievement, gender, and grade level. Additionally, cluster analysis indicated that participants could be grouped into five clusters based on their profiles of reading support; further analyses showed how these clusters differed in reading motivation and frequency.

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