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The "literature" of literature anthologies: an examination of text types.

The Common Core State Standards standards represent literacy skills that students should perform across all content areas using both literary and informational text. These standards particularly emphasize the use of informational text across all content areas by increasing the amount of this text type on assessments. The 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) was the first time policy specified the proportion of text type by grade level, showing increased emphasis on informational text with the advancement of grade level. The Common Core State Standards further supported with this text type division: 50% literary and 50% informational text in the fourth grade year, 45% literary and 55% informational text in the eighth grade year, and 30% literary and 70% informational text in the 12th grade year.

This focus on increasing the amount of informational text reading stems from a history of students who have difficulty reading these types of texts (Carnegie Council on Advancing Adolescent Literacy, 2010; Heller & Greenleaf, 2007). Researchers argue that students must have exposure and access to a variety of text types, and be provided direct, explicit instruction on how to use and comprehend these texts types (Carnegie Council on Advancing Adolescent Literacy, 2010; Kamil et al., 2008). With these new text type divisions in play, it is important to examine the types of texts used in classrooms, particularly in English language arts classrooms, since it is in these classrooms that the much of the literacy instruction for secondary students has traditionally occurred (Bean & Harper, 2011). Thus, this study investigated the types of texts used in literature anthologies, a widely and commonly used text in English language arts classrooms.


Authors of the Common Core explain that "this division [of literary and informational text] reflects the unique, time-honored place of English language arts (ELA) teachers in developing students' literacy skills while at the same time recognizing that teachers in other areas must have a role in this development as well" (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2012, para. 7). Despite these intentions, this split of literary and informational text has caused several misconceptions to emerge. Many ELA teachers have reported that administrators and district personnel have required a cut to literature in favor of including more informational text--cuts that have angered and frustrated ELA teachers (Short, 2013). Sandra Stotsky's (2012) opinion piece in The Hufffington Post further fueled this fire, spreading a heated debate across major national newspapers and web sites about the types of texts that should be taught in ELA classrooms according to Common Core (The Huffington Post, 2012; Layton, 2012; Petri, 2012; Pimental & Coleman, 2012). She argued that the strong emphasis on informational text could result in decreased analytical thinking and decreased teaching of significant literary works.

In response, many have reemphasized the original intent of the Common Core's text type division. Short (2013) pointed out that because nonfiction and informational texts are receiving more attention, especially in the younger grades, this emphasis does not translate to a deemphasis of fiction and literary texts. She states, "This belief is a misunderstanding of the standards, which are an attempt to correct an imbalance, not to establish a new imbalance where kids are not reading enough fiction" (para. 2). Additionally, the 50/50 literary versus informational text split in the middle grades and the 30/70 split in high school does not translate to secondary ELA teachers teaching all of these texts. Shanahan (2012) explained that "they [teachers] need to understand that these requirements govern not just the ELA class, but students' entire school reading experience. Thus, how much informational text students need to read in any class is somewhat dependent on what they are doing in their other classes" (para. 7).

Pimental and Coleman (2012), both authors of the Common Core, added their voices to clearing up these misconceptions by reiterating that the introduction of the standards clearly states that "the ELA classroom must focus on literature (stories, drama, and poetry) as well as literary nonfiction, [and] a great deal of informational reading in Grades 6-12 must take place in other classes" (p. 5). Historically, however, little reading or reading instruction has occurred in secondary content-area classrooms despite attempts to promote it (Hall, 2005; Heller & Greenleaf, 2007; Moje, 2008; O'Brien, Stewart, & Moje, 1995). The hope, then, is that these new standards will hold content-area educators accountable for literacy instruction, consequently increasing the amount of informational text reading and writing in content-area classes.

Regardless, the debate about what texts should be included in ELA classrooms is not new. Many believe that canonical texts should be the focus of the ELA curriculum, arguing that certain texts provide readers with common cultural literacy and capital (Bloom, 1994; Hirsch, 1987; Stosky, 2012). Others question the merits of a proscribed list of texts, explaining that such lists narrow the curriculum and fail to acknowledge students' backgrounds and interests (Anson, 1988; Rodden, 1991). Still, others support including more contemporary young adult literature (Gallo, 2001; Kaywell, 1993; Monseau & Salvner, 2000) and literature written by women and people of color (Godina, 1996; Harris, 1993; Robinson, 2001).

Texts Used in English/Language Arts Classrooms

Whereas in the past, schools and teachers have largely been responsible for the text decisions in their classrooms. Research has examined the types of texts teachers select and use (Applebee, 1993; Squire & Applebee, 1968; Stallworth, 1997; Stallworth, Gibbons, & Fauber, 2006; Stotsky, 2010), which has shown that not much has changed in nearly a century. While newer teachers may embrace more varied titles, the traditional canon, texts written by White males from the Anglo-Saxon tradition is still heavily emphasized.

In addition to lists of book titles, research has examined the contents of literature anthologies given that they are the primary text used by 91% of English and language arts teachers (Applebee, 1993). In his study of 1989 literature anthologies, Applebee (1993) found that fiction text comprised 84.5% of the text selections, illustrating that these textbooks aligned with a very traditional literature focus. The language arts textbooks used in elementary-grade classrooms, basal readers, have also traditionally contained more fiction than nonfiction (Dewitz et al., 2010; Flood & Lapp, 1986, 1987; Hoffman et al., 1994; Moss, 2008; Moss & Newton, 2002; Smith, 1991). However, the amount of nonfiction in basal readers appears to have increased over time. In the late eighties, Flood and Lapp (1986, 1987) found that basal readers contained 32% nonfiction texts. But 2 decades later, Moss (2008), who investigated the amount and type of texts contained in first through sixth grade basal readers published in 2002-2003, found that 40% of the text selections were nonfiction texts. The findings of Dewitz and his colleagues (2010) also show that publishers of basal reading programs are including more nonfiction than ever before. Given that elementary teachers are often responsible for teaching all content areas within a self-contained setting, it is not particularly surprising to find that the amount of nonfiction has increased in these textbooks as the reading community has focused on increasing the amount of informational text instruction in these grades (Duke, 2000). However, middle school students' reading and writing occurs across segmented content-area classes; therefore, examining the amount of informational versus literary texts across a school day or year is not as clear cut as in elementary classrooms.

Despite the many studies that have examined basal readers' contents, literature anthologies have been ignored since Applebee's 1993 study. As publishers swiftly create textbooks and instructional materials aligning with the new standards, it is important to consider the text types these textbooks contain given that they greatly impact the texts that are used in ELA classrooms.

Purpose of the Study

Given the increased attention due to the Common Core State Standards and the division of labor regarding text types across all content-area classes, it is important to examine the many types of texts that students may encounter in ELA classrooms' textbooks as they are one piece to the types of text students may encounter during their school day. Specifically, the following questions guided this study:

1. What proportions of NAEP text types are contained within California state-adopted literature anthologies published in 2010 across grade levels six through eight and across programs?

2. How do these amounts compare to previous studies' findings across grade levels and programs?

This study is important for several reasons. First, examining literature anthologies is critical given that a large proportion of ELA teachers use them and their contents have not been examined recently (Applebee, 1993). Additionally, the focus on sixth to eighth grade literature anthologies is significant given that the NAEP assessment is administered to students at the end of fourth grade and then again at the end of eighth grade. Examining the type and amount of texts that students may encounter between these two assessment periods may help in understanding how to better improve the reading achievement of middle school students.

Examining California-adopted literature anthologies is also of importance given that the influence of state policy on the content of national through its statewide adoptions (Dole & Osborn, 2003; Squire, 1985). Previous studies examining the contents of basal readers have also examined California-adopted textbooks (Hoffman et. al, 1987, 1994; Moss, 2008; Moss & Newton, 2002), because of the influence they have on nationwide adoptions. California adopted new language arts textbooks at the end of 2008 with the next statewide adoption occurring in 2015. These textbooks, then, were the first to be influenced by the 2009 NAEP Reading Framework recommendations.

This study is an important first step in closely examining middle school literature anthologies, consequently this study did not examine the quality or complexity of the included text selections, mirroring earlier studies of literature anthologies' and basal readers' contents. Judging the text selections by these parameters is beyond the scope of this study.


This descriptive study used content analysis to examine the types and amounts of texts included in Grades 6 through 8 California state-adopted literature anthologies published in 2010. Content analysis (Krippendorff, 2004; Neuendorf, 2002), one of the most frequently used methods to study children's literature as text (Galda, Ash, & Cullinan, 2000; Beach et al., 2009). We also selected a content analysis that uses a more quantitative "counting" approach (Clark, 2002) because this method is used often as a "first glance" and provides a wide view of the text selections included in these textbooks.


Texts. Two of the more widely used literature anthologies series were examined in this study, which will be identified as Programs A and B. These two series were selected according to the following criteria: (1) both were adopted by the state of California in November 2008; and (2) both were published in 2010. Teacher editions from each of the two programs for Grades 6, 7, and 8 were procured in order to determine the proportion and type of texts.

Codebooks and Coding Forms. To determine the amounts of various text types in the literature anthologies, a codebook and coding form were developed. The codebook and coding form contained a priori categories that had been established prior to the analysis of the text selections, following the guidelines and categories developed for similar, earlier studies by Flood and Lapp (1986) and Moss (2008). The codebook contained detailed descriptions of each category, plus step-bystep instructions of the coding process. These categories are explained in more detail below:

Title, Author, and Start Page. The text selection's title, the author's name, and the start page of the selection were recorded using the literature anthologies' tables of contents as a guide.

Programs' Classifications. Since Moss (2008) found that the programs' classifications "were often suspect, sometimes incorrect, and often inconsistent ... [as] no explanation for these classifications was provided" (p. 10), the programs' classifications were recorded to identify not only how publishers classified each text selection, but to also detect if there was inconsistency or disagreement between the programs' classifications and the NAEP classifications. Publishers of these programs labeled the text type of each text selection in the tables of contents of the literature anthologies. For example, a table of contents would list the title and author of the text selection, the page number, and a text type label or classification of this text selection (i.e. The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, a play).

Total Number of Pages. The total number of pages for each text selection was recorded. Previous studies (Flood & Lapp, 1987; Moss, 2008; Moss & Newton, 2002) also recorded the total number of pages for each text selection. Photos, illustrations, charts, and graphs were included in this page total. Before-reading activities and end-of-the-selection questions were not included. Half pages were counted.

Calculating the amount of pages for each text selection is important, not only for comparison to previous studies' findings, but since "the overall attention given to one type of writing might not be appropriately reflected by the number of selections within a category of writing because a book could contain, for example, one long literary piece and six short poems" (Flood & Lapp, 1986, p. 287).

Text type classification. Text selections were classified according to the text types outlined and defined in the 2009 NAEP Reading Framework (National Assessment Governing Board [NAGB], 2008). This coding system was selected given the recent adoption of this framework and because Moss (2008) used the same system in her study of basal readers. This framework has two main categories of text: literary and informational. Text selections were read in their entirety; publishers' classifications from the tables of contents were not considered for this code. When coding, texts were first categorized as either "literary" or "informational" text. Literary texts follow a narrative or story grammar structure (Kintsch, 1977; Mandler & Johnson, 1977; Stein & Glenn, 1979; Thorndyke, 1977). Informational texts do not follow this narrative structure.

Literary texts were then categorized as fiction, poetry, plays, or literary nonfiction. Informational texts were classified as expository, argumentative and persuasive text, or procedural text and documents. Given that many definitions of informational text exist (Watkins & Liang, 2014), clarification on NAEP's definitions for informational text types are important. According to the NAEP, expository text's function is to inform, instruct, or to objectively present truth; it "presents information, provides explanations and definitions, and compares and contrasts" (NAGB, 2008, p. 60), which may include news stories or informational articles. Argumentative text "seek[s] to influence through appeals that direct readers to specific goals or [tries] to win them to specific beliefs" (NAGB, 2008, p. 59), while persuasive texts "convince an audience or ... prove or refute a point of view or an issue" (NAGB, 2008, p. 63). Political speeches, editorials, and advertisements are examples of argumentative and persuasive texts. Procedural texts and documents "convey information in the form of directions for accomplishing a task [and are] composed of discrete steps to be performed in a strict sequence, with an implicit end product or goal" (NaGB, 2008, p. 63) and may include manuals, product support materials, and directions for activities or hobbies.

It should be noted that NAEP classifies "literary nonfiction" as literary text and not informational text, while the Common Core does consider literary nonfiction as "informational text." This difference in categorization illustrates that some groups consider "literary nonfiction," such as biographies or autobiographies, to be "informational" (Colman, 2007; Saul & Dieckman, 2005; Watkins & Liang, 2014). However, NAEP considers literary nonfiction to be "literary" given that it "employ[s] distinctly literary elements and devices to communicate [its] message and to make their content more accessible to readers" (NAGB, 2008, p. 8) and because it frequently follows a narrative or story structure. The 2009 NAEP assessment did not evaluate students' reading of plays, and thus does not provide a definition of plays. Therefore, the definition of plays from Harmon and Holman's (2007) Handbook of Literature was used. This handbook, first published more than 50 years ago, is considered an authoritative literary reference and contains more than 2,000 important terms and facts in literature, linguistics, rhetoric, criticism, printing, book selling, and information technology.


Data collection included the examination and coding of text selections listed in the tables of contents of the selected literature anthologies because student writing selections, student activities, assessments, prereading information, teacher instruction, vocabulary instruction, appendices, sidebars, and glossaries were not included in the analysis. Two coders read each of the text selections and classified them according to the NAEP text type definitions. Both coders are former middle school language arts teachers who are now literacy teacher educators and researchers. Both have experience using literature anthologies in middle school classrooms and conduct research on children's literature. The codebook and coding form were piloted prior to the study, using older editions of literature anthologies. The coders examined the text selections of the literature anthologies, coding for the previously described categories

The primary researcher coded a total of 724 text selections. The second coder coded 25% of a randomly chosen amount of the total text selections. This 25% totaled 181 text selections. The two coders discussed disagreements when they occurred by each explaining their rationales for the disagreed-upon codes, and then, coming to a consensus together. Interrater agreement for this stage of the data collection process was 90% for text selection type. The Cohen's kappa coefficient for text type was .89. These coefficients are considered acceptable levels of agreement (Landis & Koch, 1977).

Data Analysis

Final codes were used to determine the frequency of each text type at each grade level in each series. Frequencies were computed for the amount of overall selections across grade levels, at each grade level, across programs, for literary versus informational texts, and for fiction versus nonfiction texts. Descriptive statistics were then used to determine the percent of selections across grade levels, at each grade level, across programs, for literary versus informational texts, and for fiction versus nonfiction texts.

The overall number of text selection pages was also calculated. These totals were calculated for each type of text by grade level, by publisher, by literary versus informational texts, and fiction versus nonfiction texts. Descriptive statistics were used to determine the percentage of pages for each text type for each grade level, for each program, for literary versus informational texts, and for fiction versus nonfiction texts. In order to compare the programs' classifications to the NAEP classifications, the frequency of each program classification for text type was calculated for an overall total, across grade level and across programs.


NAEP Text Types

The percentages of both text selections and pages devoted to each NAEP text type are illustrated in Table 1.

Percentage of Text Types. Of the 725 text selections, fiction text comprised the largest amount of text selections (28.3%), followed by poetry (26.5%), literary nonfiction (16%), expository (14.8%), procedural text (5.4%), and argument/persuasion (4.8%).

The distribution of the text types (in each grade level) varied across the two programs. Program A had 348 text selections and program B had 377 text selections. For program A, the amount of fiction remained relatively steady across sixth and seventh grades, and then dropped in eighth grade. Program B contained the largest amount of fiction in sixth grade, then dropped in seventh grade, but did not change in the eighth grade. Expository texts, the most frequent informational text found in the literature anthologies, dropped from sixth grade to the seventh grade in Program A, but then increased again in the eighth grade. Program B showed an increase in the amount of expository text from sixth to seventh grade, but this percentage dropped in eighth grade. However, the amount of argument/persuasion text and procedural text increased in eighth grade in Program B.

Percentage of Pages. The total number of pages across the two programs was 3,180; Program A contained 1,520.5 pages and Program B contained 1,659.5 pages. Fiction text accounted for 42% of the overall pages across the two programs. Literary nonfiction comprised 18.9% of the pages with the informational text selections (expository, argument/ persuasion, and procedural) accounting for 1.8-11.4% of the overall pages. While drama accounted for only 4.1% of text selections across the two programs, this text type did account for 14.4% of the total pages--a larger percent of pages than any of the informational text types combined. Poetry accounted for the least amount of pages of the literary text (9.3%), but again, constituted a larger percent of pages than either argument/persuasion (2.8%) or procedural text (1.8%).

Literary versus informational texts. Both the percentage of text selections and pages devoted to each literary versus informational text are illustrated in Table 2. Literary texts (fiction, poetry, drama, literary nonfiction) accounted for 75% of the overall text selections; informational texts (expository, argument/persuasion, procedural) accounted for 25% of the text selections. The percent of literary versus informational text selections in Program A remained rather constant across grade levels. Program B showed an increase in the percent of informational text selections from sixth to the seventh to eighth grade (26.5 to 27.0 to 29.6%). Program B (26.5-29.6%) also had a larger percentage of informational texts compared to Program A (20.7-21.3%).

The percentage of pages devoted to literary texts also dominated. Overall, 84% of the pages were comprised of literary texts with 16% dedicated to informational texts. The percentage of literary text pages and informational text pages also remained constant across grade levels and programs.

Informational Text Types. Table 3 illustrates the percentage of text selections and pages devoted to each informational text type (expository, argument/persuasion, and procedural). Of the informational text selections, expository texts were the most represented by the percent of selections (59.0%) and the percent of pages (79.9%). Procedural texts comprised 21.5% and argument/persuasion texts comprised 19.3% of the informational text selections. However, 19.4% of the pages devoted to informational texts were argument/ persuasion, while 12.4% of the pages were dedicated to procedural texts and documents.

Program A included more expository text selections compared to Program B (69.7% to 51.4%). However, Program B contained a greater percentage of argument/persuasion texts (20.0 to 18.4%) and procedural texts (28.6 to 11.8%) than Program A. Across grade levels and programs, the percent of expository text selections was less in eighth grade compared to sixth grade. The percent of argument/ persuasion and procedural text selections increased from sixth to eighth grade across programs.

Previous Studies' Classifications

Applebee's (1993) study examined the texts in literature anthologies and categorized them either as fiction (fiction, poetry, drama) or nonfiction (literary nonfiction, expository, argument/persuasion, procedural texts). Thus, to match these earlier studies, Table 4 illustrates the percentage of fiction and nonfiction text selections and pages. Overall, fiction texts accounted for 58.9% and nonfiction texts comprised 41.1% of the text selections. Of the pages, 68.3% were devoted to fiction texts and 34.7% to nonfiction text selections. Both programs contained relatively similar percentages of fiction versus nonfiction text selections and contained a greater percent of nonfiction in eighth grade compared to the other two grades.


NAEP Text Types

The results showed that literature anthologies contain a greater amount of literary texts than informational text. However, given that literature anthologies are used only in ELA classrooms and thus do not represent students' sole exposure to informational text, this distribution is helpful, but not sufficient for students' overall literacy development (Carnegie Council on Advancing Adolescent Literacy, 2010; Kamil et al., 2008).

The amount of literary versus informational texts was fairly consistent across grade levels with eighth grade containing only slightly less literary text than in previous grades. Applebee (1993) also found an increase in the amount of nonfiction text with the increase of grade level. While this increase of nonfiction in the older anthologies is notable, we do not know the amount of informational text within Applebee's category of nonfiction. Since middle school students face more informational text as they advance in grades and since the assessments now contain an increasing amount of informational text from fourth to eighth to 12th grades, it would not be surprising if literature anthologies also mimicked these trends. However, in this study, they did not.

The number of literary versus informational text selections and the number of pages devoted to each of these text types was also inconsistent across publishers. Program A's textbooks contained fewer informational text selections compared to Program B's textbooks. However, the percentage of pages devoted to informational text was comparable between the two publishers, suggesting that while Program A may have fewer informational text selections compared to Program B, Program A's informational text selections tended to be longer in length than Program B's.

Informational Text Types

In these literature anthologies, expository text selections were the most represented of the informational text types, comprising half of the amount of informational text. Within these expository texts, one third was devoted to essays giving information and describing characteristics of specific text types contained in the literature anthologies. These particular essays are of interest since their purpose is different than the other included expository text selections, and they function as an overview to the text selections that immediately follow within the larger unit, providing students with information about components contained in these text types and information on how to read these text types. Given that these essays are included within a literature anthology, a text that traditionally helps students to become literary scholars, it makes sense that these essays are included in these textbooks. However, these essays may inflate the overall impression of how much of the literature anthology is comprised of more general expository text. Most frequently, these language arts-related text selections discussed elements and characteristics of particular genres highlighted by the publishers. For example, preceding a unit on short stories, Program B included an essay that described the elements and characteristics of short stories. Program A included similar essays. These expository texts were primarily information-giving texts, rather than literary analyses or author biographies--texts that would support a discipline-specific focus in English language art classrooms.

Procedural texts and argument/persuasion text selections were almost equal in amount, but were significantly fewer than expository text selections. While this finding is consistent across all of the literature anthologies, Program A's textbooks contained more argument/ persuasion texts than procedural texts; Program B's textbooks contained the opposite--more procedural texts than argumentative/ persuasive texts, which dropped this program's page length average. While the overall number of procedural and argumentative/persuasive texts selections may be similar, procedural texts accounted for fewer pages than argumentative/persuasive texts. This difference may be attributed to the nature of procedural texts, since they tend to be shorter in length.

While some might argue that argument/persuasion and procedural texts should not be part of the ELA reading curriculum, Newkirk (1998) argued that "we might attribute some of the difficulties that students experience with exposition to the virtual exclusion of this writing from the books that they must read" (p. 29). Moss (2008) pointed out that students "are likely to find few models for this text type [argumentative/persuasive and procedural texts] in the basal readers, which certainly might affect students' ability to write in this genre" (p. 215). This need is especially important given that while the bulk of reading in ELA classrooms may be literary-focused, much of the writing students perform tends to be expository or persuasive. Additionally, these informational text types can also be read and analyzed through a literary lens--examining the rhetorical techniques used by authors or the symbolism used by master writers--an approach supported by a disciplinary-literacy approach (Draper, Broomhead, Jensen, Nokes, & Siebert, 2010; Moje, 2008; Shanahan & Sha nahan, 2008).

Previous Studies' Classifications

Literature anthologies contained a much larger quantity of fiction compared to nonfiction texts both in the number of text selections and pages. This present study shows an increase in nonfiction compared to Applebee's 1993. He found that only 15.5% of the text selections were nonfiction (journals, biographies, autobiographies, other nonfiction narratives, and essays) while 41% of the text selections were nonfiction in the 2010 literature anthologies. Of the nonfiction text found in the present study, 39% was devoted to literary nonfiction--a text type labeled "literary" by the NAEP, but identified as "informational" by Common Core State Standards. In addition, half of the pages devoted to nonfiction were literary nonfiction texts. This finding shows that middle school students are exposed to more nonfiction following a story grammar structure compared to an expository structure in literature anthologies. The increase of nonfiction appearing in literature anthologies compared to Applebee's 1993 findings show that publishers may be more aware of the need to include more nonfiction texts, particularly at the middle school level.

Confusion of Terms. However, while publishers are including more nonfiction and informational text than before, they displayed inconsistency in text type labeling, not only across the programs, but also within their own programs. While maintaining consistency in text-type labeling is important, a larger issue grows from the confusion between "nonfiction" and "informational text" due to the variety of informational text definitions that exist (Maloch & Bomer, 2013; Saul & Dieckman, 2005; Watkins & Liang, 2014).

Additionally, teachers may incorrectly assume that by exposing students to biographies or autobiographies (types of literary nonfiction), they are exposing their students to informational text and preparing them for informational reading tasks and assessments such as NAEP. Instead, teachers are simply exposing their students to nonfiction or texts that convey information. It is important, then, for teachers to try and determine how the program or publisher is defining "nonfiction" and "informational text" so they can independently check how publishers are classifying these text types. Teachers will need to include texts in addition to those in the literature anthology during instruction, and they will also need support in finding and using these supplemental texts.

In addition to showing that terms and definitions of texts are confused, this study demonstrates that the term "literature anthology" is problematic. If "literature" is perceived as texts that are literary in nature and/or follow a story grammar structure, then one would expect only these types of texts to appear in a "literature anthology." However, these anthologies include text that is not traditionally considered "literature." The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) has published position statements that encourage "English/ language arts teachers to provide students with opportunities to study a variety of complete works of literature, as well as a wide variety of other texts, such as student writing, television, advertising, video, specialty magazines, film, and technical reports" (National Council of Teachers of English, 1989). The International Reading Association (IRA), along with National Council of Teachers of English, also encourages teachers to use a wide variety of texts (International Reading Association & National Council of Teachers of English, 1996).

Thus, one should be able to expect more than literary texts to permeate English and language arts textbooks, but recent conversations suggest that there may be push back from ELA teachers to include texts that are not traditionally considered "literature." While neither of the literature anthology programs examined in this study used the term "anthology," both programs did display "literature" prominently on the front covers of their textbooks. Moving away from labeling these textbooks as "literature anthologies" or exchanging the term "literature" for a term that is more encompassing of the types of texts that do actually appear in these ELA textbooks. However, the term "literature" could be used to emphasize that the included texts should be read and used with a literary-focused lens, as proscribed by disciplinary literacy experts.


As stated previously, while this study did not explore the quality, relevance or complexity of the text selections, it is a step toward future research that should examine these elements. Mere exposure to a variety of text types does not guarantee that students will be adept at reading and writing these texts (Duke, Pearson, Strachen, & Billman, 2011). Given teachers' heavy reliance on literature anthologies, the text selections should be interesting to students, of high quality, and appropriately complex. For example, the relevance of text selections comes into question when a literature anthology includes, as did one of the examined programs, a warranty manual for an answering machine--a piece of equipment that is rarely used today and less so by most adolescents. Few would argue that students should be able to read and use a warranty or instruction manual, but the topic's irrelevance makes the decision to include this text in the literature anthology questionable. Moreover, this type of informational text seems an odd choice for a literature anthology and furthers the question about which types of text should be included in literature anthologies. The focus on increasing the text complexity for students, particularly as they progress through school, and as expressed in the Common Core State Standards, also necessitates that this type of future research occur.

Further, while NAEP is one yardstick for the amount and types of texts to which students should be exposed, research needs to be conducted on exactly how much of each text type students need in order to be successful. Moss (2008) also suggested that such research be conducted, since "we really do not know how much or what kinds of informational text students need to experience in order to develop facility with this genre" (p. 215). Lastly, research examining how teachers use the literature anthology needs to be conducted, in addition to exploring how teachers supplement the literature anthology with other texts.


Ultimately, this study indicated that publishers are including more nonfiction in literature anthologies than in the past. Despite this increase, however, this finding echoes "the evidence that current standards, curriculum, and instructional practice have not done enough to foster the independent reading of complex texts so crucial for college and career readiness, particularly in the case of informational texts" (National Governors Association, 2010, p. 3). While literature anthologies may be one tool for providing students with opportunities to read a variety of texts, additional exposure to informational texts across content areas is also necessary in order for students to be successful.


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Naomi M. Watkins

University of La Verne

Lauren Aimonette Liang

University of Utah

* Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to: Naomi M. Watkins,
Percentage of Text Selections and Pages for NAEP Text Types for Two

                       Sixth Grade               Seventh Grade
NAEP Text              Percent of   Percent of   Percent of
Type         Program   Selections   Pages        Selections

Fiction      A         33.6         35.3         33.1
             B         29.1         42.3         25.4
Poetry       A         23.3         4.5          25.4
             B         23.9         7.4          28.6
Drama        A         4.3          5.5          4.2
             B         4.3          13.3         6.3
Literary     A         18.1         14.0         16.9
Nonfiction   B         16.2         21.1         12.7
Expository   A         16.4         9.9          13.6
             B         13.7         11.0         18.3
Argument/    A         2.6          1.2          4.2
Persuasion   B         5.1          2.1          4.0
Procedural   A         1.7          0            2.5
             B         7.7          2.9          4.8

                          Eighth Grade              Publisher Totals
NAEP Text    Percent of   Percent of   Percent of   Percent of
Type         Pages        Selections   Pages        Selections

Fiction      43.5         23.0         37.6         30.7
             37.0         25.9         40.5         26.8
Poetry       8.3          31.0         10.0         26.4
             10.5         26.7         12.6         26.5
Drama        12.1         1.8          15.4         3.4
             19.0         3.7          17.3         4.8
Literary     20.1         19.5         21.7         18.4
Nonfiction   16.4         14.1         15.1         14.4
Expository   12.9         15.9         10.9         15.3
             13.1         11.1         7.4          14.3
Argument/    2.5          5.3          3.9          4.0
Persuasion   1.7          7.4          5.8          5.6
Procedural   1            5.3          1            2.6
             2.3          11.1         3.0          8.0

                          Overall Average
NAEP Text    Percent of   Percent of   Percent of
Type         Pages        Selections   Pages

Fiction      43.4         28.3         42.0
Poetry       8.2          26.5         9.3
Drama        11.9         4.1          14.4
Literary     20.6         16.0         18.9
Nonfiction   17.3
Expository   12.6         14.8         11.4
Argument/    2.7          4.8          2.8
Persuasion   2.8
Procedural   1.0          5.4          1.8

Comparison of Literary Versus Informational Text Selections and Pages
Across Grade Levels and Publishers

                     Sixth Grade                Seventh Grade
Text                 Percent of    Percent of   Percent of
Type       Program   Selections    Pages        Selections

Literary   A         79.3          83.7         79.7
           B         73.5          84.0         73.0
Informa-   A         20.7          16.3         20.3
tional     B         26.5          16.0         27.0

                        Eighth Grade                Overall
Text       Percent of   Percent of     Percent of   Percent of
Type       Pages        Selections     Pages        Selections

Literary   84.1         78.7           84.2         75.0
           82.9         70.4           83.1
Informa-   15.9         21.3           15.8         25.0
tional     17.1         29.6           16.9

Text       Percent
Type       of Pages

Literary   84.0

Informa-   16.0

Percentage of Informational Text Selections and Pages for Two

                       Sixth Grade
Info Text              Percent of    Percent of
Type         Program   Selections    Pages
Expository   A         79.2          86.1
             B         51.6          68.6
Argument/    A         12.5          10.1
Persuasion   B         19.4          13.5
Procedural   A         8.3           3.8
             B         29.0          17.9

             Seventh Grade             Eighth Grade
Info Text    Percent of   Percent of   Percent of   Percent of
Type         Selections   Pages        Selections   Pages
Expository   70.0         80.8         64.3         70.8
             67.6         76.8         37.5         51.2
Argument/    20.8         3.8          21.4         25.6
Persuasion   14.7         9.9          25.0         28.8
Procedural   12.5         15.4         14.3         3.6
             17.6         13.3         37.5         20.7

             Publisher Totals          Overall
Info Text    Percent of   Percent of   Percent of   Percent of
Type         Selections   Pages        Selections   Pages
Expository   69.7         78.4         59.1         79.9
             51.4         65.2
Argument/    18.4         17.1         19.3         19.4
Persuasion   20.0         17.6
Procedural   11.8         4.5          21.5         12.4
             28.6         17.2

Comparison of Fiction Versus Nonfiction Text Selections and Pages
Across Grade Levels and Publishers

                       Sixth Grade
                       Percent of    Percent of
Text Type    Program   Selections    Pages

Fiction      A         61.2          64.0
             B         57.2          62.9
Nonfiction   A         38.8          36.0
             B         42.7          37.1

             Seventh Grade             Eighth Grade
             Percent of   Percent of   Percent of   Percent of
Text Type    Selections   Pages        Selections   Pages

Fiction      62.7         63.9         55.8         44.2
             60.3         66.5         56.3         43.7
Nonfiction   37.3         36.1         44.2         37.5
             39.7         33.5         43.7         29.7

             Percent of   Percent of
Text Type    Selections   Pages

Fiction      58.9         65.3

Nonfiction   41.1         34.7
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Author:Watkins, Naomi M.; Liang, Lauren Aimonette
Publication:Middle Grades Research Journal
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Sep 22, 2014
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