Zofia Zasacka


Reading for pleasure, which brings satisfaction and is intrinsically motivated, fosters educational achievement at school and in reading skills
tests while facilitating second language learning, improving the understanding of one’s own culture and foreign ones, and encouraging community participation.1 Literature offers a simulation of social life through compression, abstraction and simplification, with literary experience providing information on social communication that is translatable into one’s own practice. Engagement in simulated social interaction represents an opportunity to take on new perspectives and to understand people who differ from us, increasing our abilities to understand the acts and intentions of others and thus helping to fight prejudice.2 A sequence of studies in the social outreach of the book among Poles aged 15 or older3 shows a decline in readership indicators across all social groupings. This tendency is particularly evident among men and boys, especially from families with the lowest educational and cultural capital.4 Reading intensity (the amount of books read) has also declined among adults who have been readers so far. Giving up reading books after completing compulsory education persists as a tendency among Poles. On the other hand, the likelihood of reading longer, complex texts increases among those who grow up in a social environment where books are read, borrowed, bought, collected, and discussed.5 Empirical research also indicates that reading engagement as an attitude is critical for reading practice to become part of one’s “habitus”.6 This article analyses selected factors informing the reception of books among teenagers and their expectations towards reading that are conducive to reading engagement. Reading engagement, as we understand it, is an intrinsically motivated attitude indicating the intensity of reading practice.7 This means that an engaged reader is someone who reads books frequently and systematically, with pleasure, believing this practice to be valuable and appealing. The teenage reader’s horizon of expectations has been described on the basis of values and attributes associated with enjoyable reading. This description helps to discover certain regularities related to the circumstances in which young readers find satisfaction in reading as well as the modalities of reading they believe to be valuable. The analysis of values and characteristics pertaining to highly esteemed books formed part of the 2010 youth readership survey results.8

The present contribution also builds on the analysed results of three editions of nationwide readership survey of a representative sample of fifteen-yearolds from 3rd grade of secondary schools conducted by the National Library of Poland in the years 2003, 2010, and 2013, as well as of a 2013 survey conducted among 3rd-grade lower secondary school and 6th-grade primary school students.9 All quantitative assessment was conducted on a representative random sample, which makes the results generalizable to the entire population. Additionally, based on nationwide adolescent readership surveys, this article presents the social and demographic conditions for becoming an engaged reader, i.e. someone who reads regularly and with enthusiasm.

1 C. Clark, K. Rumbold, ‘Reading for pleasure: A Research Overview’, National Literacy Trust,November 2006, www.literacytrust.org.uk/research/nlt_research/271_reading_for_pleasure_a_research_overview [access: 09/11/2016]; C. Clark, J. Douglas, ‘Young People’s Reading and Writing: An in-depth study focusing on enjoyment, behaviour, attitudes and attainment’, National Literacy Trust, 2011, www.literacytrust.org.uk/assets/0001/0177/Attitudes_towards_Reading_Writing_Final_2011.pdf [access: 09/11/2016].
2 E. M. Koopman, F. Hakemulder, ‘Effects of Literature on Empathy and Self-Reflection:A Theoretical-Empirical Framework’, Journal of Literary Theory, vol. 9, no. 1, 2015, pp. 79–111, www.degruyter.com/view/j/jlt.2015.9.issue-1/jlt-2015-0005/jlt-2015-0005.xml [access:
3 I. Koryś, O. Dawidowicz-Chymkowska, Społeczny zasięg książki w Polsce w 2010 roku: Bilans dwudziestolecia [The Social Outreach of the Book in Poland 2010: Summary of the Last 20 Years], Warszawa 2012; O. Dawidowicz-Chymkowska, D. Michalak, Stan czytelnictwa
w Polsce w 2012 roku
: Transmisja kultury pisma [The State of Readership in Poland 2012:Transmission of the Written Culture], Warszawa 2015; D. Michalak, I. Koryś, J. Kopeć, Stan czytelnictwa w Polsce w 2015 roku: wstępne wyniki [The State of Readership in Poland 2015:
Initial Results], Warszawa 2016, http://ksiegarnia.bn.org.pl/397/Stan-czytelnictwa-w-Polscew-2015-roku-wstepne-wyniki.html [access: 09/11/2016].
4 Z. Zasacka, Czytelnictwo dzieci i młodzieży [Reading Habits and Attitudes of Children and Young Adults], Warszawa 2014; Z. Zasacka, K. Bulkowski, ‘Zaangażowanie w czytanie a osiągnięcia szkolne gimnazjalistów’ [Reading engagement and educational performance
of lower secondary school students], Edukacja, 4 (135), 2015, pp. 107–129, www.edukacja.ibe.edu.pl/images/numery/2015/4-6-zasacka-bulkowski-zaangazowanie-w-czytanie.pdf [access:09/11/2016].
5 G. Kraaykamp, ‘Literary socialization and reading preferences. Effects of parents, the library,and the school’, Poetics, 31, 2003, pp. 235–258, http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi= [access: 09/11/2016]; D. Michalak,I. Koryś, J. Kopeć, op. cit., pp. 73–81.
6 C. Clark, J. Douglas, op. cit.; Z. Zasacka, K. Bulkowski, op. cit.
7 A. Wigfield, J. T. Guthrie, ‘Relations of Children’s Motivation for Reading to the Amount and Breadth of Their Reading’, Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 89, no. 3, 1997, pp. 420–432, www.cori.umd.edu/research-publications/1997-wigfield-guthrie.pdf [access: 09/11/2016];
J. T. Guthrie, A. Wigfield, ‘Engagement and Motivation in Reading’, in Handbook of Reading Research: Volume III, M. L. Kamil, P. B. Mosenthal, P. D. Pearson, R. Barr (eds.), Mahwah 2000, pp. 403–422.
Z. Zasacka, ‘Teenagers and books – from daily reading to avoidance’, Edukacja, 6 (131), 2014, pp. 67–80, www.edukacja.ibe.edu.pl/images/numery/2014/6-5-zasacka-teenagers-and-books.pdf [access: 09/11/2016].
In May 2003, the ‘Lower Secondary School Readership’ survey was conducted by the National Library of Poland on 1,386 3rd grade school students from 70 lower secondary schools across Poland; in May 2010, a survey entitled ‘Readership among Polish Lower Secondary School Students — a Symbolic Community and Cultural Distance’ was conducted in accordance with the same methodology by the National Library (on 1,472 students), funded by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education; also, a survey entitled Readership of Children and Adolescents (on 1,816 3rd-grade middle school students and 1,721 6th-grade primary school students from 100 schools) was conducted by the Educational Research Institute (IBE) in collaboration with the National Library within the ‘Quality and Effectiveness of Education. Strengthening of Research Capabilities’ project co-funded by the European Social Fund within the Operational Programme “Human Capital 2007–2013. Priority III: Quality of the Education System”. Cf. Z. Zasacka, Nastoletni czytelnicy [Teenage Readers], Warszawa 2008; Z. Zasacka, ‘Teenagers and books – from daily reading to avoidance’, op. cit.; Z. Zasacka, Czytelnictwo dzieci i młodzieży, op. cit.