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VanSledright, Bruce A. “How do Multiple Text Resources Influence Learning to Read American History in Fifth Grade?: NRRC Ongoing Research.” NRRC News: A Newsletter of the National Reading Research Center (Sep. 1995): 4-5.


A naturalistic study explored a classroom in which multiple history text resources were present and actively used by fifth-grade students. The teacher used the textbook and supplemented it with a wide assortment of trade books. Students worked in small groups of 3 to 5 students. Data included field notes of classroom observations and in-depth interviews of a sub-sample of the class (3 males and 3 females of average achievement) before and after their unit on English colonization in North America. Six themes or patterns emerged: (1) students opted to use the trade books first, found them more interesting and informative, and enjoyed reading them more than their textbook; (2) textbook authors did not give an account of where they had obtained the information they used to construct their historical renditions; (3) students frequently used an information-quantity criterion to judge the different types of books available in terms of the quality as well as the different perspectives and material presented; (4) emerging from the use of a variety of text sources were some indications that students found the author's point of view important in making judgments about a source's reliability; (5) reading from various accounts did not foster many questions or concerns; and (6) students did not specifically note differences between textbooks and trade books. Findings suggest that students enjoy trade books and, when possible, gravitate to them for research projects.