How do we Know what they want to Read? Determining the Reading Preferences and Needs of Afrikaans Children in South Africa

By:
Maritha Snyman,
Dr Cecilia Penzhorn
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Due to the competing pleasures of electronic games, DVD’s and television, publishers in the small Afrikaans children’s book market in South Africa realised that they need to know, now more than ever before, what the reading preferences of their target audience are. Two Afrikaans book publishers consequently, commissioned an investigation to determine the reading preferences and needs of Afrikaans children. This paper will report on a countrywide survey undertaken in South Africa where 3,600 Afrikaans speaking children took part in a representative reading survey to determine the reading needs and preferences of this specific target audience. A positivistic quantitative approach was used. In addition using 200 voluntary respondents, a qualitative data collection method was applied to determine the feasibility of using an interpretative research approach in such an investigation. The detail of the two research processes will be presented as well as the two sets of findings elicited from the two different research approaches. It will be shown that the findings inferred from the qualitative data were in essence similar to the findings elicited from the quantitative data. The findings obtained from the qualitative data additionally provided valuable information as to the “why” of the respondents’ preferences. It will also be briefly indicated how the interpretative approach contributed to a more comprehensive and complete insight into the respondents’ world views and feelings. In conclusion it will be demonstrated and argued that the interpretative approach is suitable for more regular investigations of reading preferences and needs of target audiences.


Keywords: Qualitative Research, Interpretative Research, Reading Needs and Preferences, Afrikaans, South Africa, Children
Stream: Publishing
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Maritha Snyman

Associate professor, Information Science, University of Pretoria
Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

Prof Snyman teaches Information for Development at the Department of Information Science at the University of Pretoria.
Her research interests comprise the application of reception studies, the dissemination of information to various target audiences as well as issues around the implementation of ICTs for development. She is also actively involved in research about the reading behaviour and needs of South Africans children and as consultant to South African publishers .
Prof Snyman has published extensively in academic journals and is an author of several Afrikaans childrens’ and youth books.

Dr Cecilia Penzhorn

Lecturer, Department of Information Science
Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

Cecilia Penzhorn originally qualified as a speech therapist and later obtained a Higher Diploma in Library Science from UNISA and subsequently Honours and Masters degrees in Information Science at the University of Pretoria. She worked as a subject information specialist for Social Sciences at the Academic Information Service of the University of Pretoria until 1998. She joined the Department of Information Science at the University of Pretoria in a full-time capacity in 1999 after being involved as a part-time lecturer since 1991. She is currently involved in teaching various courses on undergraduate level and specialises in user studies and has published in this field locally as well as internationally. She co-ordinates and teaches Research Methodology on post graduate level.

Ref: B07P0091