The Evolution of Assigned Reading: The Diversity in New Hampshire High School Reading and Student Reading Engagement

—Julian Maduro (Mentor: Laura Smith)
Julian Maduro

The research on current high school reading lists is limited; however, studies suggest that high school literary curricula have remained nearly unchanged for the last thirty years. Since the reading lists of the 1990s were found to lack racial and gender diversity and to mostly contain texts written before the year 1965, an unchanged list would likely be unable to fit the demographics and interests of students today, potentially negatively impacting student reading engagement. This survey study investigated how high school reading lists in New Hampshire have evolved since the 1990s. New Hampshire high school English teachers were asked to describe texts they used in their classrooms and their perceptions of student engagement in relation to these texts. I found that although current New Hampshire high school reading lists contain many of the same texts found on the lists from the 1990s, current lists contain more racial and gender diversity and more modern texts. I also found preliminary evidence suggesting that students respond more positively to diverse reading lists and to texts that have been published in the past fourteen years.  

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