The Interdependence between Young Students’ Reading Attitudes, Reading Skills, and Self-Esteem

Tuula Merisuo-Storm, Marjaana Soininen


Learning to read is young students’ main goal during the first school years. Reading skills are an important tool that they need to become academically successful. A child who does not learn to read and comprehend different texts in the early school years has severe difficulties also in studying other school subjects. The study described in this article aimed to find out what kind of self-esteem, reading skills and attitudes towards reading and studying children have during their first two school years. To measure children’s self-esteem we used a questionnaire of 50 items (see Article Soininen & Merisuo-Storm). Students’ reading skills were assessed in the second grade with a reading comprehension test. They read a nonfiction text of a squirrel and answered questions related to the text. Answers to the easiest questions could be found in the text but when answering the most difficult question the students had to make connections that are not clearly expressed in the text. It means that they had to be able to “read between the lines”. To find out what kind of reading attitudes the first and the second graders have towards reading we constructed a questionnaire including 17 questions for all pupils and five extra questions for the second graders. The questionnaire covers four different areas: 1) attitudes towards reading, 2) attitudes towards studying, 3) attitudes towards social reading, and 4) feeling of competence. The scale used in the questionnaire is a Likert-type 1–4 (agree–disagree). 563 children (281 boys and 259 girls) took part in the study. The results show that children’s self-esteem correlates significantly with their reading comprehension skills (r= .310, p= .000), reading attitudes (r= .419, p= .000), and attitudes towards studying (r= .384, p= .000). The students who have good self-esteem have good reading skills and positive attitudes towards reading and studying. When looking at the different parts of the self-esteem questionnaire, the strongest correlations are between students’ selfhood and attitude towards studying (r= .376, p= .000) as well as between affiliation and attitude towards studying (r= .348, p= .000). This indicates that children, who are confident and happy being what they are as well as get well along with their peers, enjoy studying. Even more often than those children who are conscientious or have a high feeling of competence. The results show that students’ self-esteem has a strong effect on their learning and attitudes. However, when we know how important it is for the first and second graders to acquire good reading skills, it is also possible that learning to read has a positive effect on young students’ self-esteem. Therefore, it is essential that the teachers support the positive development of each student’s self-esteem as well as reading skills and attitudes.

DOI: 10.5901/jesr.2014.v4n2p122

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Journal of Educational and Social Research ISSN 2239-978X(Print) ISSN 2240-0524(Online)

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