Original Research

Reading is very important, but...: Taking stock of South African student teachers’ reading habits

Nicole Rimensberger
Reading & Writing | Vol 5, No 1 | a50 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v5i1.50 | © 2014 Nicole Rimensberger | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 February 2014 | Published: 01 December 2014

About the author(s)

Nicole Rimensberger, Embury Institute for Teacher Education, South Africa


This article explores the contradiction between student teachers’ acknowledgement of the importance of reading and their actual personal reading habits, and by doing so, attempts to dig below the surface and ‘take stock’ of future teachers’ attitudes towards reading at a private tertiary institution in Durban, South Africa. The rationale is that without fully understanding student teachers’ own attitudes towards reading, the challenges of literacy and reading in the classroom cannot be fully addressed. It does this through a survey of 171 student teachers that investigated how much or how little they read for pleasure, what texts they read for pleasure (fiction, non-fiction, magazines, newspapers, online), how many of them are engaged readers of extended texts (fiction and non-fiction) and finally, the role books and reading play in their lives. It emerged that student teachers’ positive attitude towards reading and their apparent understanding of its importance starkly contradicted their lack of own reading for pleasure and investment of their time in this activity. The acknowledgement of the importance of reading can be viewed as a small success. However, it is ultimately overshadowed by the reality that if this contradiction is not pointed out and interrupted, it could send a mixed message to future learners: that reading is important, but not pleasurable.


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