Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Juliet Halladay


Well-meaning educators often recommend more "boy" books to increase reading motivation amongst boys. This experimental mixed-methods study investigated the influence of the "boy" book/ "girl" book phenomenon on willingness to read using a researcher-designed instrument called the Textual Features Sort (TFS). The TFS measured two attitudinal constructs—gendered beliefs about texts and willingness to read—in relation to individual textual features of selected young adult novels. Data came from 50 sixth and seventh grade students at a mid-sized public school in a rural New England state. Mean scores, frequencies, and percentages were analyzed using independent samples t-tests, paired t-tests, and Fisher's exact test. Qualitative data was used to explain quantitative results. Findings indicate that boys were not more willing to read "boy" books than other books, nor less willing to read books with female protagonists. Boys were significantly less willing to read "girl" books, though individual textual features of a single novel elicited different gendered beliefs along with varying degrees of willingness to read. Girls were significantly less willing to read a novel if it was first sorted as a "boy" book. Research revealed a widespread belief in social consequences for a boy carrying a "girl" book down the hallway, that did not hold for girls. Findings suggest that sociocultural constructions of gender inhibit both boys and girls as readers, though to varying degrees, and challenge the notion that highly gendered and heteronormative assumptions about books and reading practices will increase willingness to read among young adolescent boys.



Number of Pages

165 p.