The female voice: girls' views on their leisure reading practices and their perceived views on family and peers' leisure reading practices in Singapore.

Year: 2017

Author: Ramakresinin, Shamala

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The first National Reading Day was held on July 2016. This initiative mooted by the Singapore Parliament is part of a five-year campaign, National Reading Movement, to create a vibrant reading culture. The campaign aims to encourage Singaporeans to "Read More, Read Widely and Read Together" as highlighted at the Committee of Supply Debate on April 2016.

Against this backdrop, this research, which was part of a larger study, investigated female participants' perceptions on their leisure reading practices and their perceived views on family (parents and sibling(s)) and peers' leisure reading practices. The study also explored whether the said social agents support (through materials provided, verbal encouragement, creating a print-rich reading environment) participants' leisure reading practices.

Participants in the study were in the age range of 10 - 11 years and came from two types of schools: mixed-gender school and single-gender school. Mixed-gender schools in Singapore context, refer to government or public schools and participants from such schools usually come from low to middle-high income families. Participants from single-gender schools on the other hand, are from middle-high to high social economic status (SES) groups. Framed along Social Learning Theory, the study used qualitative research design to determine the aims of the research by conducting one focus group discussion session with six participants from each school.

Key findings revealed that more participants from single-gender school were leisure readers than participants from mixed-gender school, and there were similarities as well as differences in the reasons participants offered for engaging or disengaging in leisure reading. In addition, participants from both schools shared that their home environment was print-rich, yet the kinds of materials read by participants from both schools differed based on their social context. Not all participants from mixed-gender school were supported in their leisure reading pursuits by family and peers; rather, they were encouraged to read by another social agent, tuition teachers.

Interestingly, more participants from mixed-gender school had egalitarian views towards reading and reading materials based on social agents' influence unlike those from single-gender school. Participants from single-gender school had egalitarian, traditional or hybrid views towards reading and materials read.

The study claims that if social agents read more, read widely and read together with children, the latter will have positive reading experiences leading to positive perceptions towards reading. Children will cross boundaries in reading to enjoy all types of genres assimilating reading practices of role models from their environment.