ALAN v28n3 - 'I Hate Reading If I Don't Have To': Results from a Longitudinal Study of High School Students' Reading Interest

Volume 28, Number 3
Spring/Summer 2001

"I Hate Reading If I Don't Have To":
Results from a Longitudinal Study of High School Students' Reading Interest

Lisa A. Hale and Chris Crowe

Are high school students reading? If so, what are they reading? What are they required to read? What do they read for pleasure? What general categories of books do students claim to like? Do YA books have a place in the elective or required reading done by high school students? Hoping to find some concrete answers to these questions, Chris conducted a reading interest survey among ninth through twelfth graders at a local high school in 1982 when he was a graduate student at Arizona State University. In 1990 and again in 1997, he administered the identical survey to similar populations at the same school. Now with survey data collected over a 15 year span, we've crunched the numbers to answer those initial questions and to see how, if at all, reading habits have changed in the past decade and a half.

The survey was simple (see Appendix A ). The first two items asked students to identify themselves by gender and by year in school. The next two items asked students to list titles of required reading and pleasure reading from the last two years. The survey's final component presented students with a genre checklist and asked them to identify their favorite types of books: science fiction, fantasy, adventure, western, romance/love stories, biography/autobiography, sports, mystery, true life adventure, historical, humor, and other. (Horror fiction was left off the original 1982 list. Most students reported their interest in horror fiction by checking the "other" category.) In each of the three times the survey was administered, it was distributed among approximately equal numbers of ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth graders. Of course this survey was limited to one high school in Arizona, so the results cannot be over-generalized, but what we found may be of interest to English teachers, people interested in the reading habits of teenagers, and to anyone interested in YA literature.

Required Reading

Composite Results

Our reading interest survey was certainly not the first of its kind. Arthur Applebee's study of the high school canon that appeared in the September 1992 English Journal showed that the traditional canon was firmly entrenched in the high school literature curriculum. Four of Shakespeare's plays dominated Applebee's lists: Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Hamlet. The most frequently required novel was The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn followed closely by To Kill a Mockingbird, The Scarlet Letter, Of Mice and Men, The Great Gatsby, and Lord of the Flies. No YA titles were reported as required reading in Applebee's survey.

The results of all three of our surveys are similar to the larger sample studied by Applebee. Our 1990 survey results featured six of the above titles and most closely parallels Applebee's findings ( Table 1 ). The 1997 survey also suggests an affinity for traditional canon titles, including works by Shakespeare. However, the composite 1982 survey results diverge from both subsequent surveys and Applebee's list in their seeming eschewal of Shakespearean plays and in their inclusion of two YA titles-S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders and That Was Then, This Is Now. This divergence possibly indicates a shift away from incorporating YA literature into the curriculum at this particular school between 1982 and 1990. Another apparent shift seems to be toward plays. In both 1990 and 1997, a significant number of the top required titles are plays-Medea, Our Town, Everyman, Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, Julius Caesar, and Twelve Angry Men- whereas in 1982, no plays make the top required list.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the only title which graces composite required reading lists for all three survey years. Though a mainstay, its popularity does dwindle. For instance, in 1982, it accounts for 28% of all required titles listed by students, but by 1997, this number drops to 5.12%. Despite this drop, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn still remains the most popular required reading title reported in all survey years by all grade levels and is followed by three other classics: Great Expectations (5.28%), The Great Gatsby (4.87%), and Romeo and Juliet (4.74%). Selections from the traditional literary canon certainly dominated the required reading for these high school students in all survey years.

Results by Grade Level

When the results were broken down by grade level, we noticed that ninth graders were required to read more young adult titles than other students ( Table 2 ). Over one third (36.49%) of the required titles reported by ninth graders were YA novels. Freshmen also achieved greater diversity in their titles, perhaps because they were permitted to read more elective books or books from prescribed reading lists than students at other grade levels. The composite freshman favorites included: The Outsiders; I Know What You Did Last Summer; The Pigman; That Was Then, This Is Now; The Contender; The Girl Who Owned a City; I Am the Cheese; and Summer of Fear. Many of these titles also appear on one or more of the top required lists for 1982, 1990, and 1997.

Sophomores in the study reported fewer required titles than the freshmen did, and mentioned only twoYA titles: The Outsiders and Paul Zindel's The Pigman ( Table 3 ). They also reported more plays, a pattern that would emerge more strongly in the next two grade levels. By the junior and senior years, students reported no required YA titles as required reading (Tables 4 and 5 ).

Pleasure Reading Preferences

Popular Authors and Titles

We expected to find titles reported for pleasure reading markedly different from required reading, and assumed we would see many more YA novels in this category. The results showed that many students are reading for pleasure, but we were surprised-and disappointed-by the lack of YA titles mentioned at all levels. Students reported hundreds of titles, from popular to obscure writers, from classic books to series. Because of the very broad range of titles reported by students over the years, we considered any title receiving more than 1% of the mentions significant (though not statistically significant).

It probably comes as no surprise that the King of the pleasure reading was Stephen King. According to the titles reported by students, horror fiction and thrillers dominated elective reading in all three survey years. In 1982, for example, six of the eleven most mentioned pleasure reading titles were by Stephen King or V. C. Andrews ( Table 6 ). In 1990, three-fourths of the composite pleasure reading titles were Stephen King's. In 1997, however, King's books were displaced by Michael Crichton's thrillers, RL Stine's horror series, and Lois Duncan's I Know What You Did Last Summer. Our survey results suggest that movies may have a strong influence on elective reading. Two of the top King titles mentioned in 1990 were made into movies prior to the survey (one in 1989 and one in 1990), and every popular Crichton novel listed in the 1997 survey as well as Duncan's novel were made into motion pictures prior to the surveys. The book-movie relationship trend wasn't as strong in the 1982 survey; only one of the 1982 horror novels was adapted to the screen before the survey.

When we examined the most popular authors, as evidenced by number of titles students listed rather than the most frequently mentioned titles, we got slightly different results. Stephen King still dominated the 1990 survey, accounting for 9.58% of all elective reading titles listed by all students. And the second most popular author, V. C. Andrews, accounted for 2.88% of all titles. Other popular authors in 1990 included: J. R. R. Tolkien, Danielle Steel, Christopher Pike, Piers Anthony, Douglas Adams, Dean R. Koontz, Lois Duncan, Scott Turow, L. M. Montgomery, Robert A. Heinlein, George Orwell, Lloyd Alexander, and Margaret Weis.

Although none of King's individual titles make the composite top pleasure reading list in 1997, his works account for 5.2% of the all the elective reading titles. Only R.L. Stine's 6.5% outscores King. Michael Crichton, author of three of the top elective books, came in third with 4.55% of the titles reported. Other popular authors in 1997 were Dean R. Koontz, Lois Duncan, John Grisham, Lurlene McDaniel, Maya Angelou, Jean M. Auel, Mary Higgins Clark, S. E. Hinton, Wilson Rawls, and Roald Dahl. The authors listed in our results are similar to other recent reading interest surveys: one by Anne Wilder and Alan Teasley done in North Carolina that appeared in a recent issue of The ALAN Review and a national survey of teen reading reported in Book.

Two classic authors, John Steinbeck and William Shakespeare, surface among the top authors of elective titles in the 1990 and 1997 surveys. We had expected these authors to be reported in the required category and were surprised to see them appear under elective reading. True, some students may read these authors for pleasure, but we suspected that many of the survey takers simply listed any titles they could recall from their English classes.

Pleasure Reading by Gender

Although overall boys and girls reported a similar number of pleasure reading titles, our data suggests that boys are slightly less likely to read for pleasure than are girls. Seventy percent of boys and approximately 80% of girls in both 1990 and 1997 listed at least one pleasure reading title. In 1990, girls each listed one additional pleasure reading title than did boys (an average of 4.14 titles per girl vs. 3.14 titles per boy), and girls were also more likely to jot down commentary on their reading. One junior in 1990 wrote, "I have read [so] many books, I can't list them." and listed only a single pleasure reading title: Virginia Hamilton's The People Could Fly. Another female junior listed seven titles by Willa Cather, Rebecca Baldwin, and J. D. Hardin, and boasted that the books listed were only the ones she had read in the last week. This same student selected the "other" genre and noted that she liked to read "pretty much anything-but mostly sci fi, fantasy, adventure, romance/love stories, true life adventure, and humor." However, though girls may read more in their spare time than boys, in our survey, boys generally reported greater diversity in authors, titles, and genres.

It is difficult to make assumptions about which titles are preferred by boys and which by girls, simply because many popular titles were listed by both, and other titles were listed with such infrequency that analysis is impossible. However, in 1982, boys most popular pleasure reading titles were Star Wars, E.T., Deathwatch, and Alive, while girls preferred Flowers in the Attic, Petals in These Wind, and Sybil. In 1990, J. R. R. Tolkien and Terry Brooks were mentioned exclusively by boys; V. C. Andrews and Danielle Steel were cited exclusively by girls. In 1997, boys had only one exclusive author, Michael Crichton; girls' exclusives included Lurlene McDaniel, R. L. Stine, John Grisham, and Dean R. Koontz.

Favorite Genres

Composite Results

The consistent unpopularity of the autobiography/biography, historical, and western genres among most adolescents may not surprise anyone, though the severity of their unpopularity might: all three genres combined account for less than 7% of all student selections in 1982, less than 6% in 1990, and less than 4% in 1997 ( Table 7 ). Only one additional genre remains about as constant in its overall popularity or lack thereof: Sports (7.29% to 6.37% to 9.64%). Though the mystery genre's surprising rise in popularity in 1997 may partially account for this-it claimed an unprecedented 37.45% of all votes-it can't fully explain why more kids don't choose to read about something that is so popular in today's society. However, we should note that the sports genre was the only genre besides mystery and "other" to grow in overall popularity between 1982 and 1997, even though its growth was slight. Also, sports is consistently one of the more popular genres identified by boys.

Over a fifteen-year span, the remaining genres experienced surges or dips in popularity, some erratic, others constant. Most notable among the genre surges is the mystery, which almost quadruples in its overall popularity between 1982 and 1997 (10.42% to 37.45%), and the "other" category, which grows from 2.08% in 1982 to 14.01% in 1990 and dips slightly to 9.64% in 1997. The rising interest in horror fiction is partially responsible for this growth. In 1997, for example, approximately 60% of the students selecting "other" indicated that their genre of choice was in fact horror. Interest in horror may also account for the mystery genre's surge in popularity, since some students may have checked this related genre because of the absence of a horror category. Whether or not this is the case, it is interesting to note that mystery readers listed a variety of titles by traditional mystery writers like Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark, by thriller writers such as John Grisham and Dean Koontz, and by horror novelists including L. J. Smith, Lois Duncan, and Stephen King. Mystery readers also reported titles by authors of other genres.

The rise in popularity of the mystery genre in the 1997 survey results paralleled a national trend reported in Book in 1999: the most popular authors among high school readers were, in order, Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, Michael Crichton, and V. C. Andrews ( Kloberdanz 36 ). Mystery's increase in popularity among our respondents caused most other genres to slip, including: romance/love stories, science fiction, adventure, true life, humor, and fantasy, with romance/ love stories being the most significant casualty. This genre dropped from 18.75% in 1982 to 7.23% in 1997, a difference of 11.52%. However, the staggering overall decline of the romance/love stories must be attributed to more than the rise of the mystery; perhaps teenagers' tastes are changing, or more specifically, teenage girls' tastes are changing, since they were responsible for all romance/love stories genre selections in all three survey years. This is consistent with Heather Vogel Frederick's report in Publisher's Weekly where she discusses the "sluggish" sales and changing face of romance books. "Genre-driven romance doesn't quite exist the way it used to . . . [it's] less formulaic" (Ruby qtd. in Frederick 47 ). New teen romances, Frederick reports, include the inspirational-romance novels of Lurlene McDaniel and "hybrid romance/SF series" (47).

Favorites by Gender

Despite the significant decline in the popularity of romance/ love stories, this genre persists on the girls' top favorite genre lists for all three survey years ( Table 8 ), affirming Elise Howard's view that "as long as there's a young teen readership in the world, books about romance can do well" (qtd. in Frederick 47 ). The mystery genre also thrives, particularly in 1997 where it enjoys an overwhelming preference of 47.17%. And it is likely that many female teenagers prefer both elements of intrigue and romance in their books. One female senior in the 1990 survey, for instance, noted that she reads every single book by V. C. Andrews because she liked the combination of romance and mystery in them. She went onto list four Andrews' titles she had elected to read-Garden of Shadows, Gates of Paradise, Dark Angel, and Heaven-along with Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead and Pat Graversen's Dollies.

Boys show more diversity in the genres they like, with adventure, and sports topping the lists for 1982, 1990, and 1997 ( Table 9 ). They also liked science fiction, humor, fantasy, mystery, and "other." The only genre that tops both the boys' and the girls' lists was mystery.

Young Adult Titles

Are students reading YA literature? As noted above, more YA required reading titles surface in 1982, primarily in the freshman list. In general, however, students reported very few YA titles in their pleasure reading ( Table 10 ).

In elective reading when students chose to read young adult books, who did they read? S. E. Hinton, of course. Other YA authors mentioned were Lloyd Alexander, Piers Anthony, Avi, Rebecca Baldwin, Frank L. Baum, Cynthia Blair, Judy Blume, Terry Brooks, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Ellen Conford, Caroline B. Cooney, Susan Cooper, Robert Cormier, Lois Duncan, Louise Fitzhugh, Fred Gipson, Virginia Hamilton, Carolyn Keene, Norma Klein, Madeleine L' Engle, Ursula Le Guin, C. S. Lewis, Anne McCaffrey, L. M. Montgomery, John Neufeld, Robert C. O'Brien, Christopher Pike, Ellen Raskin, Wilson Rawls, Willo Davis Roberts, Ouida Sebestyen, and Cynthia Voigt.

Students who reported YA titles generally listed several works by a single author, possibly indicating a kind of brand loyalty: once they find a young adult author they like, they read more by that author ( Table 11 ). For example, a single freshman in the 1990 survey listed seven Lloyd Alexander titles, while another freshman listed seven titles by Lois Duncan.


The good news is that, in these surveys, at least, student reading has remained essentially constant. Students in this Arizona high school maintained a fairly consistent reading rate for the last 15 years, and over the course of their four years of high school, reading shows little or no decline: seniors reported approximately the same number of titles as the other grade levels, though because of the number of classic works listed in pleasure reading, we doubt that the titles they report reflect their true reading habits. More good news: Book's 1999 survey of high school students from six states found that 92% read at least one book per month, and, according to a more recent (2001) press release by the NEA, 42% of the teenagers in a national survey reported that they read "primarily for fun and pleasure." The NEA also found that high school students do read: 49% say they read more than ten books a year, and 85% of the teenagers surveyed described reading as "rewarding and satisfying" ( "Teens 'Get It'" ).

The bad news from our results is the absence of YA titles in all categories in all years. This literature that is written for and marketed to teenagers and that is required study for nearly all English teacher preparation programs in the United States has made few inroads on the high school literature curriculum: the traditional canon has remained a dominant presence in the high school literature curriculum over the years. This bad news can be tempered by the fact that high school students are indeed reading. Our survey results show that they're reading canonical and popular adult fiction, and these results are backed by other, more recent reading interest surveys.

Still, it's disappointing that YA books remain on the margin in both required and pleasure reading. Certainly a number of YA novels are well suited for the lower high school grades, but many fine YA books exist for juniors and seniors as well. As students get older and more involved in life's various activities, they have less time for reading and must devote what little reading time they have to what's required by their English classes. Despite the availability of a wide range of excellent YA novels for students in their junior and senior years of high school, most English programs continue to emphasize traditional adult fare. Students who are readers continue to read, but if given the opportunity to read YA books, they might read even more. In an article reporting the results of a reading survey of high school students, Kristin Kloberdanz noted that most high schoolers who say they read list popular adult authors, like John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark and Stephen King, as their favorites. Also popular are the writers of classics they've been exposed to in school: Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, William Faulkner, Shakespeare. While enjoying the challenges these writers' works offer, teenagers say they would probably read more if they found more books that were tuned into their lives. (36)

Perhaps if we continue to sing the praises of quality YA books, we can begin to help those books find their way to the audience for whom they're intended.

Works Cited

Applebee, Arthur N. "Stability and Change in the High-School Cannon." English Journal Sept. 1992: 27-32.

Bushman, John H. "Young Adult Literature in the Classroom -Or Is It?" English Journal. Mar. 1997: 35-40.

Frederick , Heather Vogel. "The Future Looks Bright for Teen Romance." Publisher Weekly Nov. 10, 1997: 47.

Kloberdanz , Kristin. "Booksmart." Book Jul./Aug.1999: 34-38.

"Teens 'Get It' - Reading Matters." Online posting. National Education Association. 2 March 2001. < >.

Wilder, Anne, and Alan Teasley. "Making the Transition to Lifelong Reading: Books Older Teens Choose." The ALAN Review 27.1 (Fall 199): 42-46.

Lisa A. Hale, an Instructor in English at Brigham Young University, and Chris Crowe, a professor of English at Brigham Young University and 2000-2001 President-Elect of ALAN, collaborated on the research from which this article was written. The research was funded, in part, by the ALAN Foundation Award for Research in Young Adult Literature.

Appendix A

Reading Interest Survey

Please fill out the information spaces below. Answer all questions that apply to you. If a question does not apply, or if you do not understand a question, leave it blank. Do not put your name on this survey form.

I. Male     Female

II. freshman     sophomore     junior     senior

III. List, by title, the books you've been required to read in the last two (2) years.

IV. List, by title, the books you've read because you wanted to, in the last two (2) years.

V. When given the opportunity to read any kind of book you choose, what kind of books do you read? Check one only.

___A. science fiction
___B. fantasy
___C. adventure
___D. western
___E. romance/love stories
___F. biography/autobiography
___G. sports
___H. mystery
___I. true life
___J. historical
___K. humor
___L. other (please explain)

Appendix B

Table 1. Composite Top Required Titles

1982 1990 1997
The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn (28.07%)
The Outsiders (6.13%)
Lord of the Rings (series) (4.01%)
To Kill a Mockingbird (3.77%)
That Was Then, This Is Now (3.30%)
The Red Badge of Courage (2.36%)
The Good Earth (3.14%)
The Scarlet Letter (5.42%)
The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn (9.27%)
The Great Gatsby (7.42%)
Great Expectations (6.28%)
Medea (4.99%)
Our Town (4.71%)
The Scarlet Letter (4.14%)
The Crucible (5.72%)
Everyman (2.43%)
Romeo and Juliet (14.16%)
Great Expectations (9.94%)
The Odyssey (8.13%)
The Pearl (7.83%)
Julius Caesar (6.63%)
The Great Gatsby (5.72%)
Romeo and Juliet (3.14%)
The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn (5.12%)
Titles occurring with a 2% or greater frequency are listed.

Table 2. Top Required Freshman Titles

1982 1990 1997
The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn (20.47%)
The Outsiders (14.96%)
Lord of the Rings (9.45%)
That Was Then, This Is Now (9.45%)
The Good Earth (9.84%)
Lord of the Files (7.77%)
I Know What You
Did Last Summer (6.22%)
A Separate Peace (6.22%)
The Great Gatsby (5.70%)
The Pigman (5.70%)
The Girl Who Owned a City (5.18%)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (5.18%)
I Am the Cheese (5.18%)
I Know What You
Did Last Summer (7.41%)
Invitation to the Game (5.56%)
Titles occurring with a 5% or greater frequency are listed.

Table 3. Top Required Sophomore Titles

1982 1990 1997
The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn (20.47%)
The Outsiders (14.96%)
The Hobbit (5.26%)
The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn (31.18%)
Great Expectations (25.81%)
Romeo and Juliet (15.05%)
The Diary of Anne Frank (6.45%)
Romeo and Juliet (21.95%)
The Odyssey (20.73%)
Great Expectations (17.07%)
The Pearl (15.85%)
Titles occurring with a 5% or greater frequency are listed.

Table 4. Top Required Junior Titles

1982 1990 1997
The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn (32.56%)
To Kill a Mockingbird (7.75%)
The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn (22.08%)
Great Expectations (12.99%)
Julius Caesar (7.14%)
Julius Caesar (15.83%)
Romeo and Juliet (15.00%)
The Pearl (10.83%)
Great Expectations (10.00%)
The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn (9.17%)
The Odyssey (7.50%)
The Crucible (6.67%)
Twelve Angry Men (6.67%)
Titles occurring with a 5% or greater frequency are listed.

Table 5. Top Required Senior Titles

1982 1990 1997
The Red Badge of Courage (13.70%)
The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn (8.22%)
The Great Gatsby (6.85%)
Of Mice and Men (5.48%)
The Scarlet Letter (5.48%)
Jude, the Obscure (5.48%)
The Crucible (5.11%)
The Great Gatsby (14.6%)
Medea (11.68%)
Our Town (11.68%)
The Scarlet Letter (8.03%)
Everyman (5.84%)
Death of a Salesman (5.11%)
The Great Gatsby (19.78%)
The Scarlet Letter (18.68%)
Romeo and Juliet (10.99%)
The Crucible (10.99%)
Great Expectations (7.69%)
The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn (6.59%)
Titles occurring with a 5% or greater frequency are listed.

Table 6. Composite of Top Pleasure Reading Titles

1982 1990 1997
The Outsiders
S. E. Hinton (3.07%)

Flowers in the Attic
V. C. Andrews (1.54%)

Stephen King (1.37%)

George Orwell (1.37%)

That Was Then, This Is Now
S. E. Hinton (1.37%)

The Shining
Stephen King (1.37%)

Stephen King (1.19%)

Go Ask Alice
anonymous (1.19%)

Lord of the Rings
J. R. R. Tolkien (1.19%)

The Dead Zone
Stephen King (1.02%)

Petals in the Wind
V. C. Andrews (1.02%)
Pet Sematary
Stephen King (1.76%)

Stephen King (1.28%)

Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck (1.12%)

Stephen King (1.12%)
R.L. Stine Series (1.30%)

A Time to Kill
John Grisham (1.03%)

Michael Crichton (1.30%)

The Crucible
Arthur Miller (1.30%)

I Know What You Did Last Summer
Lois Duncan (1.30%)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Maya Angelou (1.30%)

Jurassic Park
Michael Crichton (1.30%)

The Lost World
Michael Crichton (1.30%)

The Outsiders
S. E. Hinton (1.30%)

Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare (1.30%)

Where the Red Fern Grows
Wilson Rawls (1.30%)

Titles occuring with a 1% or greater frequency are listed.

Table 7. Composite List of Favorite Genres

1982 1990 1997
Romance/Love Stories (18.75%)
Science Fiction (12.50%)
Adventure (11.46%)
True Life (10.94%)
Humor (10.42%)
Mystery (10.42%)
Fantasy (9.38%)
Sports (7.29%)
Biography/Autobiography (4.69%)
Other (2.08%)
Historical (1.56%)
Western (.52%)
Fantasy (14.01%)
Other (14.01%)
Approx. 33% of these specified horror.
Adventure (13.38%)
Romance/Love Stories (13.38%)
Mystery (12.10%)
Humor (10.83%)
Science Fiction (6.37%)
Sports (6.37%)
True Life (4.46%)
Biography/Autobiography (3.18%)
Historical (1.27%)
Western (.64%)
Mystery (37.45%)
Other (9.64%)
Approx. 60% of these specified horror.
Sports (9.64%)
Adventure (7.23%)
Fantasy (7.23%)
Romance/Love Stories (7.23%)
Science Fiction (7.23%)
True Life (6.02%)
Humor (4.82%)
Historical (2.41%)
Biography/Autobiography (1.21%)
Western (0%)

Table 8. Girls' Favorite Genres

1982 1990 1997
Stories (35.29%)
True Life (12.75%)
Mystery (11.76%)
Stories (22.81%)
Mystery (11.96%)
Humor (10.87%)
Mystery (47.17%)
Stories (11.32%)
Genres with a 10% or greater frequency are listed.

Table 9. Boys' Favorite Genres

1982 1990 1997
Science Fiction (22.92%)
Adventure (17.71%)
Humor (12.50%)
Sports (10.42%)
Fantasy (17.95%)
Adventure (15.38%)
Sports (11.54%)
Mystery (10.26%)
Sports (18.6%)
Mystery (13.95%)
Adventure (11.63%)
Other (11.63%)
Science Fiction (11.63%)
Genres with a 10% or greater frequency are listed.

Table 10. Top Pleasure YA Titles Listed Alphabetically

1982 1990 1997
Go Ask Alice

The Chocolate War
Robert Cormier

That Was Then, This Is Now
S. E. Hinton
The Outsiders
S. E. Hinton

I Know What You Did Last Summer
Lois Duncan

Incarnations of Immortality
Piers Anthony

Locked in Time
Lois Duncan

Magic Kingdom for Sale-Sold!
Terry Brooks

Remember Me
Christopher Pike

A Separate Peace
John Knowles

A Spell for Chameleon
Piers Anthony

Sword of Shannara
Terry Brooks

The Westing Game
Ellen Raskin

A Wrinkle in Time
Madeleine L'Engle

Xanth (series)
Piers Anthony
Anne of Green Gables
L. M. Montgomery

The Outsiders
S. E. Hinton

R. L. Stine Series (entire or part)
R. L. Stine

Where the Red Fern Grows
Wilson Rawls
Titles with a 1% or greater frequency are listed.

Table 11. Top Pleasure Reading YA Authors Listed Alphabetically

1982 1990 1997
Terry Brooks
Paula Danzinger
S. E. Hinton
John Neufeld
Wilson Rawls
Piers Anthony
Judy Blume
Terry Brooks
Frances Hodgson Burnett
Robert Cormier
Lois Duncan
John Knowles
Madeleine L'Engle
Ursula Le Guin
C. S. Lewis
L. M. Montgomery
Christopher Pike
Ellen Raskin
Cynthia Voigt
S. E. Hinton
Joseph Locke
Wilson Rawls
R. L. Stine
To be listed above, titles by each author must have been mentioned by two or more students in a given survey year.

Reference Citation: Hale, Lisa A. and Crowe, Chris. (2001) ""I Hate Reading If I Don't Have To": Results from a Longitudinal Study of High School Students' Reading Interest" The ALAN Review , Volume 28, Number 3, p. 49.