THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN READING INTEREST AND READING COMPREHENSION ACHIEVEMENT OF SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN AFIKPO EDUCATION ZONE OF EBONYI STATE



Abstract
The study focused on the Relationship between Reading Interest and Reading Comprehension Achievement of SSS students in Afikpo Education Zone of Ebonyi State. The purpose of the study was to identify the Relationship between Reading Interest and Reading Comprehension Achievement of SSS students. The study adopted the corrolational survey design. The sample of the study consisted of seven hundred and sixty nine students in Afikpo Education zone of Ebonyi State.
A questionnaire titled “Reading Interest Inventory’’ (RII) and ‘‘Reading Comprehension Achievement Test” (RCAT) was used to elicit information from students. The instrument was subjected to internal consistency and part B was computed using Cronbach Alpha and it gave a reliability coefficient of 0.71. Part C was computed using KR-20 and it gave a reliability coefficient of... These coefficients showed that the instrument was consistent and reliable. The research questions were answered using the Mean and Standard Deviation while the hypotheses were tested using the Product Moment Correlation Coefficient. The results show that there is a significant relationship between reading interest and reading comprehension achievement of SSS 2 students in Afikpo Education Zone of Ebonyi State. From the findings of the study, some recommendations were made.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title________________________________________________________ i
Approval____________________________________________________ii
Certification _________________________________________________iii
Dedication ___________________________________________________iv
Acknowledgement ____________________________________________v
Abstract ____________________________________________________vi
Table of Contents______________________________________________ vii
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study______________________________________ 1
Statement of the Problem______________________________________9
Purpose of the Study_________________________________________11
Significance of the Study_____________________________________ 11
Scope of the Study__________________________________________14
Research Questions_________________________________________ 14
Hypotheses________________________________________________15
CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
Conceptual Framework_______________________________________16
The Concept of Reading/ Reading Comprehension __________________17
The Concept of Voluntary Reading______________________________21
The Concept of Reading Interest________________________________25
Student’s Attitude towards Reading/Teacher’s Competence___________29
The Place of Reading Comprehension in the Secondary School Curriculum/
Timetable__________________________________________________34
The Concept of Large Classes___________________________________36
Environmental/Cultural Factors and the Students’ Reading Interest______39
Methods of Teaching Reading___________________________________45
Gender and Reading Interest____________________________________52
The Chief Examiners Reports on SSCE past Examinations_____________56
Analysis of Students Five-Year Performances on WASSCE____________60
Relationship between Reading and  Students Reading A          academic Achievement________________________________________________62
Theoretical Framework_________________________________________66
Theories of Learning___________________________________________66
Anderson’s Schema-Theoretical Model of Reading___________________66
Edward L. Thorndike’s Theory of Connectivism (S-R)_________________67
Empirical Studies_____________________________________________69
Summary of Literatures Reviewed________________________________74
CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY
Design of the Study____________________________________________76
Area of the Study_____________________________________________76
Population of the Study_________________________________________77
Sample and Sampling Technique_________________________________78
Instrument for Data Collection___________________________________78
Validation of Instrument__________________________________________79
Reliability of the Instrument_______________________________________79
Method of  Data Collection______________________________________80
Method of Data Analysis__________________________________________80
CHAPTER  FOUR
Findings ___________________________________________________81
CHAPTER  FIVE
Discussion  of Findings________________________________________91
CHAPTER  SIX
SUMMARY,  CONSLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Implication of the Study________________________________________95
Recommendations____________________________________________96
Limitations of the Study________________________________________97
Summary  of the Study_________________________________________98
Conclusion__________________________________________________99
REFERENCES_________________________________________________71
APPENDICES
Appendix A: Questionnaire/Reading Comprehension Achievement Test (RII/RCAT)
Appendix B: Reliability Analysis Scale
                                                           
CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.1       Background to the Study
            Reading is very important for any student who wants to excel academically. It is a vital ticket for graduating from one level of learning to another. According to Omojuwa (2005), reading is defined as getting meaning from a text or symbols that represent the language we speak; it is interacting with the language that has been coded into print. Maduabuchi (2005:66) conceive reading as “a process and not a product” which characterize an ongoing activity that begins long before the child gets to school and continues to develop through life. The researcher maintains that reading involves learning; it equally incorporates the individual’s linguistic knowledge and can positively or negatively be affected by non-linguistic internal or external variables. Interest on the other hand, according to Hidi (2001), is the desire to learn more about something. It is any activity or a subject that one enjoys and that one spends ones free time doing or studying. Schraw (2001) equally conceive interest as a relatively long-lasting habit of re-engaging with particular objects and events. This re-engagement increases knowledge, value and positive attitude. Thus, reading interest may be seen as the inner urge or desire to engage in reading always. Also, Hidi believes that interest leads to more elaborate and deeper processing of texts. Invariably, interest seems to have a substantial effect on the quality of learning achieved by the students. This shows that reading interest is necessary for the students, to enhance their reading comprehension achievement. 
Potter (2011) opines that reading fires children’s imagination and encourages quick learning as well as widens views, expand horizons, and helps readers learn about climes. He further argues that it encourages imagination, curiosity and the ability to handle complex ideas. Reading plays a vital role in any worthwhile effort to learn English. It is a tool for learning other subjects and a yardstick for measuring academic progress. It is also through reading that educational objectives can be accomplished. Above all, reading is related to other language skills. Fatimayin (2012) describe it as the core of the English language syllabus by explaining that the acquisition of the large vocabulary needed for clear and accurate oral and written expression depends to a large extent on reading. It is a gateway to academic success. That is the reason its importance cannot be overstated. However, in spite of this acclaimed importance of reading, many Nigerian students according to Okon and Ansa (2005) have reading problems. As if to compound these problems, Nigerian schools do not have a time specifically set aside teach for the teaching of reading.
According to Adeboye (2012), educationists believe that students retain about 6% to 10% of what they hear, 20% to 25% of what they read, and about 50% of what they study. The summation of the last two figures that relates to reading imputes that about 75% of what is read is retained and this is enough to make a student pass his examinations. Going by this analysis then, why the mass failure in comprehension tests? The implication of the poor performances of students in this area, according to Chief Examiner’s Report (2011) of West African School Certificate Examination, therefore, is that students do not engage in substantial reading to retain that which will enable them perform well in reading comprehension tests. It is failure in reading comprehension that gives rise to failure in the English Language which directly or indirectly affects other subjects. This analysis strengthens the importance of reading especially to students.
As important as reading is, it is particularly problematic for children within the school system. A great majority of them are failing to learn to read and many more are unable to read to learn Oduolowu (2006). Oyetunde (2001) believes that the reading failure is as a result of the nature of the reading process which is not generally understood in Nigeria, perhaps because English is a second language, and as such a school language.
Oyetunde (2001) further maintains that many teachers and teacher trainers do not readily appreciate the difference between teaching the English language and teaching of reading. Reading, therefore, is not usually conceived as something separate from English. This may explain the reason reading is not included in the Nigerian secondary school time-table. The general assumption is that children learn to read in the course of schooling. Oyetunde (2001), therefore, opines that people see reading as what is caught and not taught. Because of the failure to make a distinction between reading and English language, it is sometimes assumed that once a child can speak the English language he can already read. This assumption leaves the child struggling on his own to develop interest in reading which he knows very little about.
Potter (2011) is of the opinion that reading is a major source of pleasure in any society. This is true of a society with a reading culture. In the views of Fatimayin (2012), Nigeria is seen as a country with a poor reading culture and this has a corresponding negative effect on the young students who see the adults as their model.
It is very surprising to realize that in spite of the immense benefits derived from reading, secondary school students do not seem to have interest in it. Obanya in Oduolowu (2006) notes that in Nigeria, many students do not come to school with the necessary texts or at least the basic reading materials. Anderson (2012) traces the reason to environmental factors which has to do with family background (where adult models do not have reading interests themselves) and inadequate school facilities. Fatimayin (2012), on the other hand, observes that the place of reading by SSS students is gradually being taken over by home video watching. This causes their interests in reading to wane at the stage when in fact it should be the period for building for higher learning. According to him, students are not doing well in both internal and external examinations owing to their decline interest in reading.    
Reading is the means through which the goals of other school subjects could be achieved. Uyoata (2005) notes that an important means of realizing the goals of the National Policy on Education (2004) is the mastery of skills of reading and comprehending the contents of subject areas. Potter (2011) on the other hand, affirms that reading serves as one of the language skills employed for effective academic pursuits. He maintains that for reading to be meaningful, children must be able to comprehend and learn from text. This will not just be in the classroom but equally in their spare time. The major problem encountered is that ignorantly, teaching reading is erroneously conceived as testing reading comprehension by most teachers of the English Language. This confusion of reading and testing reading comprehension further helps to kill the reading interests of students.
Reading is a prerequisite for graduating from one level of learning to another. To a student, a good academic performance is not divorced from thorough reading and understanding of the content areas of a particular subject, just as an excellent performance requires an extra reading especially beyond the content areas. When a student indulges in this ‘extra’ reading (by personal choice) either for pleasure or for information, he is said to be engaging in voluntary reading (Schraw 2001). According to this researcher, Interest in reading, therefore, is believed to gradually build students' voluntary reading habit which will boost students’ performance in examinations and consequently reduce the rate of failure recorded in reading comprehension tests.
In the same vein, reading interest has specific ways of affecting learning. Schraw (2001) notes that reading interests activate text-processing strategies that result in readers being engaged in deeper–level processing. He also records that the connections readers make between information and their prior knowledge or previous experiences increase their reading interests. When this happens, comprehension is facilitated which subsequently leads to higher academic achievements. Another factor that has been associated with reading interest and increased learning is attention. Hidi (2001) argues that interest is associated with automatic attention that facilitates learning. More specifically, the researcher argues that such attention frees cognitive resources and leads to more efficient processing and better recall of information. As interest undoubtedly has a strong emotional component, this aspect play as critical role on how reading interest influences learning.
On the other hand, Schraw (2001) upholds that individual interest is a relatively long-lasting habit of re-engaging with particular objects and events. This re-engagement increase knowledge, value, and positive attitude. Students bring to their academic experience a network of individual interests, some similar to and some incompatible with classroom learning. The interest similar to classroom learning helps to facilitate learning and consequently boost achievement.
Equally, gender plays an important role in deciding the reading interest of students. Schraw (2001) believes that social categories such as gender and race function as individual interest factors that may affect classroom engagement. In his view, individual interest in a subject may help individuals deal with relevant but boring texts. This is especially so where gender is seen by Oyebola (2004) as influencing stereotypes and affecting the text choice and achievement of the students. For instance, Pae (2004) holds that gender stereotyping has permeated the school system, manifesting in both direct and subtle ways. This researcher therefore upholds that certain subjects are usually perceived as ‘masculine’, for example science, technology and mathematics while others like home economics, literature, and secretarial studies are usually seen as ‘feminine’. This claim if proved true, would definitely affect the text choice and the reading interest of the students. On the other hand, Oyebola (2004) upholds that the African society emphasizes gender and this greatly affects both the students reading, reading interest and reading comprehension achievement. According to this researcher, boys believe that certain subjects perceived to be easier are for girls. Thus their interests tend to tilt towards the ones they believe to be appropriate to their sex.
On the other hand, it is very worrisome that reading comprehension achievement has been generally poor in both internal and external examinations according to West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) Chief Examiners’ Report (2011). In this report, it is recorded that over the years, both the male and female students perform poorly in English language and the worst hit area is the reading comprehension test. The importance of reading comprehension is that it helps the students to transfer understanding to other subjects outside English Language and when this is done, general success is achieved in examinations.
The Chief Examiner’s Report (2011) was corroborated by the Nigerian Examination Committee of WAEC in the communiqué issued at the end of their meeting in 2011. They blamed the poor performances mostly on poor understanding of what the question demands. This problem, which relates to reading comprehension, was equally identified by the Chi  ef Examiners as one of the reasons students fail examinations. According to Ekpu (2005), Omojuwa (2005), Udosen & Ukpak (2005), reading is making meaning from texts. The interpretation is that a poor reader or a person who finds reading boring also has comprehension problems. When a student has comprehension problems, he/she is bound to have a wrong interpretation of questions during examinations which may lead to answering examination questions out of context. This consequently culminates to failure.
The whole essence of studying English language based on the provisions of the National Policy on Education is for effective communication both oral and written. For a student to communicate effectively, many things need to be in place, and one of such things includes developing reading interest. Ekpu (2005) pointed out that good readers make good writers. Therefore, the very first step to combat the massive failure in the English language in external examinations is to lure students’ interest to reading. Thus, for the students to perform very well in examinations especially in comprehension tests a good reading foundation has to be laid and students’ interest equally boosted in reading.
Further more, the high failure rate in some subjects like mathematics, biology, physics, to mention but a few, have been traced to failure in English Language Aliyu in Ekpu (2005). Since poor performance in English language has a correlation impact on other subjects, it means that the problem lies within reading comprehension. It is in order to deepen concern in this sphere that this research is conducted, first to determine the relationship between reading interests and reading comprehension achievement of senior secondary school students and proffer suggestions for improved reading comprehension for greater achievements.

1.2       Statement of the Problem
Available research indicates that most students do not have interest in reading (Okon and Ansa 2005). They only read when they are compelled by teachers and adults to do so, especially during examinations and as a result, they find reading very difficult and boring. Because students do not have interest in reading and are forced to read outside their own volition, reading becomes very boring causing serious loss of interest and comprehension problem is usually encountered as a result. This seems to explain the reason for the poor reading comprehension achievements recorded in examinations.
It should be recalled that English Language is one of the core subjects in the Nigerian school system, especially in the secondary schools. Despite the fact that it is also Nigeria’s Lingua Franca, it is one of the prerequisites for gaining admission into any of the Nigerian universities. In addition, its importance to national development cannot be overemphasized. It is the language of communication, trade and social services. The Nigerian Constitution and the National Policy on Education are all stated in the English Language. To achieve the desired impact of this all important language to the Nigerian society, reading has to be employed. In fact, success in every other subject is rooted not only in reading but also on reading comprehension. The concern now is that students are seriously loosing interest in reading to football and home video watching, internet browsing and all other activities outside reading Fatimayin (2012). As important as this subject is, no serious attention seem to have been paid to enhance the student’s interest in reading. This is evidenced in the poor performances recorded yearly in almost all subjects. According to the Chief Examiner’s Report (2011), the worst hit area is reading comprehension tests where students perform poorly especially in external examinations. This indicates that students hardly understand what they read. This comprehension failure has earlier been traced by Okon & Ansa (2005) to decline of reading interest among secondary school students.
The failure rate in the English Language has been placed between 70 - 75% annually Aliyu in Ekpu (2005), which has a correlative effect on other subjects. This is a cause for concern to educationists and well meaning individuals. The poor performances have been consistent over the years (Saturday Sun 2011). The regular failure in examinations strengthens the argument that students are gradually loosing reading interest which is the master key to success in examinations especially in reading comprehension achievements.
            In view of the above, this study looks at the Relationship between Reading interest and reading comprehension achievement of senior secondary school students in Afikpo Education Zone of Ebonyi State.

1.3       Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to determine the relationship between reading interest and reading comprehension achievement of senior secondary school students in Afikpo Education Zone of Ebonyi State. This study specifically:
1.      Determined the reading interest of the students,
2.      Ascertained the achievement of the students in reading comprehension,
3.      Determined the reading interest of the students based on gender,
4.      Ascertained the reading comprehension achievement of the students based on gender.
5.      Determined the relationship between reading interest and reading comprehension achievement of the students.

1.4       Significance of the Study
This study determined the relationship between reading interest and reading comprehension achievement of senior secondary school students and made recommendations for improved reading comprehension. It will be useful to all stakeholders of the education sector: curriculum planners, Ministry of Education, schools, school heads and teachers, students, future researchers and the general public.
            It will be useful to curriculum planners because it will expose the need to pay serious attention to Reading as a core subject in the school system during curriculum planning and development. This owes to the fact that the Nigerian curriculum does not accord it the importance it deserves by separating it from the English Language and allotting it a separate time in the school time table.
The Ministry of Education will benefit immensely from this study because it will become aware of the relationship between reading interest and reading comprehension achievement and thereby plan the breaking down of the language curriculum to properly accommodate reading instruction for the student’s greater reading comprehension achievement. It will equally help them to allot appropriate time to reading instruction in the school time table. They will also begin to organize workshops and in-service training for teachers of the English Language who are currently used as substitutes to reading instruction teachers pending when curriculum planners will include reading as a separate subject in the school curriculum and more teachers trained for reading instruction.
Every school would want to achieve the best result both in internal and external examinations. Thus this study will benefit school authorities immensely as they will realize that students’ interest in reading will bring improved performance in all the subjects. The school authorities, therefore, would become aware of the importance of good and well equipped libraries with current books as well as interesting ones to attract the reading interest of the students for better academic performance.
This study will also be beneficial to teachers generally; especially the English language teachers as they would begin to employ the best methods to teaching reading in order to attract the interest of the students. Also, teachers would become aware that constant reading has an important role to play in the reading comprehension achievement of students. This will make teachers attend workshops and in-service training to update their knowledge in reading instruction. When students develop interest in reading and become voracious readers, teachers would find it easier to teach vocabulary, spelling, figures of speech and reading comprehension. This owes to the fact that they would have been properly informed on the role reading plays to the student’s achievement in reading comprehension.
It will also be useful to students because it would help them to develop interest in reading. The reason being that they would become aware that interest in reading helps them to read voluntarily and this leads to a better performance in reading comprehension achievement. More so, students would, through reading, develop the basis for greater achievement in vocabulary knowledge, verbal fluency, spelling, reading comprehension and general world knowledge. This becomes possible when the gap between reading interest and reading comprehension achievement is established and teachers take advantage of it to teach students properly.
            The study will also be beneficial to future researchers as it will necessitate the research on the strategies for promoting reading interest among students. It will also benefit the general public because the students are among the people that form the society. When the students perform better academically they turn out to be gainfully employed and the society consequently becomes better.

1.5       Scope of the Study
This study determined the relationship between reading interest and reading comprehension achievement of senior secondary school students in Afikpo Education Zone of Ebonyi State. It focused mainly on reading, reading interests, reading comprehension, and reading comprehension achievement. The study was delimited to the public schools in Afikpo Education Zone of Ebonyi State and twenty schools were used.

1.6       Research Questions
The following research questions were formulated to guide the study:
1.         What is the mean of the students’ reading interest?
2.         What is the mean of the students’ achievement in reading comprehension passages?
3.         What is the mean of the students’ reading interest based on gender?
4.         What is the mean of the students’ achievement in reading comprehension passages based on gender?
5.         What is the relationship between the students’ mean reading interest and their mean reading comprehension achievement?

1.7       Research Hypotheses
The hypotheses that guided the study include:
1.         There is no significant relationship between the mean of the student’s reading interest and the mean of students’ reading comprehension achievement scores.
2.         There is no significant relationship between the mean of the reading interest of male and female students.
3.         There is no significant relationship between the mean of the reading comprehension achievement of male and female students.

CHAPTER TWO
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
Related literature was reviewed based on the following major areas:
A   Conceptual Framework
·        The Concept of Reading/Reading Comprehension
·        The Concept of Voluntary Reading
·        The Concept of Reading Interest
·        Student’s Attitude Towards Reading/Teacher’s Competence,
·        The Place of Reading in the Secondary School Curriculum/ Time Table,
·        Large Classes,
·        Environmental/Cultural Factors and the Students Reading Interest,
·         Methods of Teaching Reading,
·        Gender and Reading Interest,
·        The Chief Examiner’s Reports on SSCE Past Examinations,
·        Analysis of Students Five-Year Performances on WASSCE 
·        Students’ Reading and Achievement in Reading Comprehension.
B   Theoretical Framework
·        Theories of Learning:
·        Edward L. Thorndike’s Theory of Connectivism (S-R)
C   Empirical Studies

D   Summary of Literatures Reviewed.

2.1       Conceptual Framework
2.1.1   The Concept of Reading/ Reading Comprehension
            English language scholars have given various definitions of reading as well as reading comprehension. Reading is an interaction between the reader and the text Carrel in (Matthew Thomas, Manzo, Anthony and Casale 2005). Widdowson in (Carr 2010) similarly defines reading as an interactive process. He sees reading as the process of combining textual information a reader brings to a text with a previous knowledge. In his view, the reading process is not simply a matter of extracting information from the text, rather it is one in which reading activates a range of knowledge in the reader’s mind that he or she uses, and that in turn may be defined and extended by the new information supplied by the text. He sees reading as a dialogue between the reader and the text. This is obvious because meaning cannot be divulged from information.
            In addition, Carrel in Matthew Thomas, Manzo, Anthony, Casale (2005) asserts that reading is not a passive but rather an active process, involving the reader in an on-going interaction with the text. Anderson (2011) on the other hand, sees reading far from being passive. He upholds that it is an active process. He further expanded reading to meaning seeking, information processing (how language and thought interact) as well as the sociolinguistic aspects (language operating in a social context including writers as readers).
            On the other hand, Ekpu (2005), Omojuwa (2005), Udosen and Ukpak (2005) define reading as getting meaning from a text or from symbols that represent the spoken language, it is interacting with the language that has been coded into print. Thus, reading is a must for a secondary school student who wants to excel academically and otherwise.
Maduabuchi (2005:66) conceives reading as “a process and not a product” which characterize an ongoing activity that begins long before the child gets to school and continues to develop through life. The researcher maintains that reading involves learning. It equally incorporates the individual’s linguistic knowledge and can positively or negatively be affected by non-linguistic internal or external variables. Richgels in (Maduabuchi 2005) therefore notes that reading comprehension is the result of a successful interaction of a reader with a text.  This goes to strengthen the fact that reading has to be a part and parcel of students’ life for a good academic performance.
Reading good books is very important for the child's academic growth and parents should stand as a reading model as well as provide interesting books in their homes. Uyoata (2005:41) realizes the importance of books and reading when she stated that “homes without books constitute an eyesore and African parents should show a good example to their children by reading to the younger ones.” However, the status of the home must be considered. The poor illiterate homes may not rank the purchase of books high as against the purchase of food. An illiterate home will not be able to set the foundation for reading. O'Reilly and McNamara (2007) note this as they observe that there are proportionally many more reading failures among children who come from poor homes than there are among their affluent age peers. They thus conclude that illiteracy and poverty are contributing factors to students' poor reading habits. It therefore, becomes the responsibility of the primary school teacher to build in the pupils the love for reading.
       Contrary to various definitions of reading, Aukerman & Aukerman in Potter (2011) are of the opinion that reading is not synonymous to deriving meaning from the printed page; in fact they assert that there is no meaning at all on a printed page. To be found there are only lines and curves that we happen to call letters from which we build words. According to them, comprehension will not be found on the printed pages but in the mind of the readers who read the words. It is difficult to agree with these researchers because both the printed pages and the readers mind work simultaneously to achieve comprehension.
From the view of Potter (2011), it is clear that experience is necessary for the comprehension of a text. Then, what is comprehension? Anderson (2011) defines comprehension as an interaction of new information with old knowledge. Reading and comprehension are intertwined; the meaning and relevance of one depends on the other. Anderson (2011) equally analyzes another type of interactive model of reading, namely a schema-theoretical model. They show how reading comprehension involves interaction between old and new information. They focus on how the readers schemata, or knowledge already in memory function in the process of interpreting new information and allowing it to enter and become a part of the knowledge store. Abioye (2010b) equally upholds the same view. To him reading comprehension is processing written language to get ideas, relating ideas to experience, organizing ideas, evaluating ideas and utilizing ideas. The reader equally must have intelligence, language and experience. Johnston in Imam (2004) equally posits that comprehension is building bridges between the known and the new. Johnston’s view seem convincing because the reader cannot but interpret and understand what he reads in accordance with the wealth of related knowledge about the topic under discussion.
Akpama, Egong and Akwa (2005) see reading and comprehension as complementary. In their view, comprehension means understanding and making sense of what is being read or heard. They establish that effective reading comprehension for students in the context area is very vital and that reading comprehension question to be answered by students in the examination help to ascertain their level of understanding at the vocabulary, grammar and content levels. Lack of understanding in any of these areas contributes greatly to the mass failure of students in the English language examinations especially in the reading comprehension tests. This is why this study becomes imperative to come up with the findings that will boost students’ reading interest to enhance their reading comprehension achievement.

2.1.2   The Concept of Voluntary Reading
            Voluntary reading is a type of reading carried out by students on their own. This has to do with the reader's personal choice of the material to be read, including when (time) and where (place) to read it. Voluntary reading is done for information or pleasure. It requires no report or checks on comprehension. Voluntary reading is seen by Krashen (2003) as leisure reading, spare time and recreational reading, while Anderson (2011) conceive it as independent reading and reading outside school. Independent reading involves personal choice, reading widely from a variety of sources and choosing what one reads.
            According to Fatimayin (2004), voluntary reading cuts across all categories of literate people - adults, youngsters, men and women. This researcher further maintains that reading involves all kinds of literature, depending on reader’s interests and purpose. In other words, one can read for pleasure, novels, romance, fiction, science fiction, biographical books, poems, plays, magazines and newspapers. Anyone reading for pleasure must be literate, that is, such a person must be competent in most of the skills of reading. Oduolowu (2006) states that Successful reading requires the recognition of written words and the understanding of their meaning, but that successful reading, especially of difficult material is dependent upon the ability to think like and with its author.
Voluntary reading is a form of recreation. Reading for pleasure, according to Abioye (2010a) is traveling without exerting oneself and the information one picks up from biographic, philosophical and psychological books to a large extent goes into shaping one's thinking and personality. Reading, in its own way, liberates individuals and societies from the shackles of backwardness (Fatimayin 2004). This researcher also believes that voluntary reading promotes functional literacy which facilitates intellectual development made possible by reading all sorts of books for academic, pleasure and recreational purposes. This is to say that through the process of recreational reading, students’ lives, attitude to people, situations and events as well as their morals and communicative competence are enhanced. The richer, better and wider the variety of books and materials one reads, the better ones experience.
            Fatimayin (2004:150) lists eight main purpose of reading for English. The last four are reading for pleasure to prove the immense benefits of recreational reading in the lives of students. The eight points are to:
(a)  Get main ideas in a section, chapter, essay, story or poem,
(b) Get detailed information or the important facts supporting the main       ideas,
(c) Locate a particular fact or to find the answer to a specific question;
(d) Gather material for a critical analysis;
(e) Share the author's feelings or those of his characters;
(f)  Find out how to do something;
(g) Increase knowledge and broaden horizon;
(h) Get pleasure.

            It is evident, therefore, that students will benefit tremendously when they begin to develop interest in reading.
Reading, apart from providing opportunity for fun and leisure has a lot to contribute to both individual and national development. Potter (2011) observes the contribution that reading good literature does to children. According to him, reading good literature can promote a sense of security, achievement and a sense of informed appreciation in the child. Reading promotes a deep awareness and builds the child up emotionally and intellectually. It equally educates children unconsciously and pleasurably. According to Fatimayin (2012), the two major broad areas of reading that students must be exposed to in order to promote their interest in reading and enhance their academic performance include intensive and extensive reading
Intensive Reading
Intensive reading involves careful and detailed reading for facts. The advantage of this type of reading is that it enables the student to have an understanding of exact and implied meanings of words as well as the relationship of thoughts. Through intensive reading the student has detailed knowledge of the text so as to make critical judgment of them. Moreover, intensive reading helps to sharpen the learner’s imagination and also increase his power of thought as factual and critical questions play a very prominent role in determining whether or not the texts have been understood. According to Oyetunde, (2001), intensive reading gets the students involved in the independent use of the language and encourages free expressions. Through constant practice and exercises in intensive reading, the student might gain good control of the language, become capable of forming accurate and correct concept and develop in an effortless manner, keen perception and ease confidence and fluency in the correct English expression.

Extensive Reading
            Extensive reading involves reading many books outside prescribed texts in any topic of interest (Oyetunde 2001). Under this approach, the main purpose is to get the gist of the texts and also for the required information. Extensive reading is also applied to train students to read for pleasure and relaxation. While extensive reading calls for speed and reasonable understanding and retention of materials read, intensive reading demands careful and detailed study of materials for understanding the minutest points. However, intensive reading and extensive reading complement each other.
Just as it is important for students to engage in reading activities, it is equally very important for what is read to be understood, otherwise reading becomes unhelpful. According to Potter (2011), without understanding words become only a series of lifeless symbols which neither communicate nor produce learning, and consequently add nothing useful to the life of the child. This researcher maintains that when a learner understands and interacts with written or printed language, the language summarizes the knowledge of the world, fulfills many of his effective needs and touches the very fiber of the child's existence. Bdliya (2004) puts it more clearly when he says that the primary goal of reading is meaning. Without meaning there is no reading and to read is to understand.

The Concept of Reading Interest
            According to Hidi (2001), interest is the desire to learn more about something. Again, it is any activity or a subject that one enjoys and that one spend ones free time doing or studying. Thus, reading interest may be seen as the inner urge or desire to read. According to Schraw (2001), among various conceptualizations of interest, the most common is to consider interest according to individual mannerisms. This is because a person’s character has a way of affecting his/her interest and it has both cognitive and affective (emotional) components. Researchers also distinguish between individual and situational interest, with the former targeting personal interest and the latter focusing on creating appropriate environmental settings.
Individual Interest
Schraw (2001) views individual interest as a relatively long-lasting habit of re-engaging with particular objects and events. This re-engagement increases knowledge, value, and positive attitude. Students bring to their academic experience a network of individual interests, some similar to and some incompatible with classroom learning. The interest which is similar to classroom learning helps to facilitate learning and consequently boost achievement. Social categories such as gender and race also function as individual interest factors that may affect classroom engagement. Individual interest in a subject may help individuals deal with relevant but boring texts.
Another factor that has been associated with interest, reading and increased learning is attention. Hidi (2001) argues that interest is associated with automatic attention that facilitates learning. More specifically, the researcher argues that such attention frees cognitive resources and leads to more efficient processing and better recall of information. Finally, as interest undoubtedly has a strong emotional component, this aspect may play a critical role on how interest influences learning. The effect of emotions on interest, however, is yet to be fully investigated in educational research.
Situational Interest
This refers to a psychological state elicited by environmental stimuli (Schraw 2001). This means that the situation at hand provokes the student’s interest and this once triggered, may or may not be maintained.  Situational interest generated by texts may sustain motivation even when individuals have no particular interest in the topic.
Topic Interest
According to Hidi (2001), this is the interest ignited by the topic being treated. Topic interest may have an especially significant role in reading and writing in school because students usually have to deal with text on the basis of topics provided by teachers.

Influence of Interest on Reader’s Text Processing and Learning
According to Schraw (2001), the prevalent view in educational research around the 1980s was that proficient readers process and recall text according to its hierarchical structure. This means that readers could recall best more important ideas at the higher levels of text structures. After the 1980s, researchers found that reader’s well informed individual interests and their situational interests (evoked by topics and text segments) contributed to their reading comprehension and learning. Several studies have demonstrated that personal interesting text segments and passages written on high interest topics to students facilitate their comprehension, inference and retention. Thus, interest seems to have a substantial effect on the quality of learning achieved by the students. Also interest leads to more elaborate and deeper processing of texts.

Factors Contributing to Readers’ Interest
            Research indicates that many factors ignite the readers’ interest. According to Renninger and Ann (2002), text characteristics contribute immensely to making reading materials more interesting. These researchers indicate that certain concepts like death, violence and sex can be considered absolute interests that almost universally elicit individuals’ interest. Their subsequent research suggests that a variety of text characteristics contribute in a positive way to the interestingness and memorability of written materials. Sources that were found to be sources of situational interest include novelty, surprising information, intensity, visual imagery, ease of comprehension, text cohesion and prior knowledge.
            Text based interest can also be promoted by altering certain aspects of the learning environment such as modifying task presentations, curriculum materials and individuals self–regulation. For example, Schraw (2001) was able to change the interestingness and recall of text materials by assigning for reading various perspectives on the same topic. In addition, he maintains that research has indicated that presenting educational materials in more meaningful, challenging and /or personally relevant contexts can stimulate interest. Modifying the presence of others in the learning environment can also elicit interest. For example, Schraw (2001) records that mono-educational class in physics can contribute to girls’ increased interest in the subject area.
Also, Schraw (2001) records that Carol Sansone and colleagues in a series of studies show that individuals can self-regulate in order to make tasks more interesting and subsequently to develop individual interest in activities initially considered uninteresting. Although these studies did not deal specifically with interest in reading, they indicate that interest in reading could also be increased by similar methods.

Processes through which Interest Influences Learning
Interest has specific ways of affecting learning. Schraw (2001) notes that interest activates text-processing strategies that result in readers’ engagement in deeper level processing. The researcher also records that the connections readers make between information and their prior knowledge or previous experiences increase their interest. When this happens, comprehension is facilitated which subsequently leads to higher academic achievements.

Student’s Attitude towards Reading/Teacher’s Competence 
Though it can be argued that the government is doing its best to promote the culture of reading in schools and make students change their attitude to reading through the employment of qualified language teachers and the provision of subject–based textbooks, there is no clear-cut evidence to support the argument because most public secondary schools have no functioning libraries while most students cannot afford to buy the recommended textbooks for their subjects because of the socio-economic background from which they have come (Saturday Sun 2011). It can be argued, therefore, that there is no facility, programme or activity on ground in Ebonyi State to develop and sustain student’s interest in reading except the state library stocked with old and uninteresting books. This situation is further worsened by the free education policy introduced by the state government as vote–catching strategy without adequate infrastructural support. This has become an excuse by parents who do not have the wherewithal to buy books for their children but are willing and are ever-ready to send such children to public schools.
            The reasons for the waning interest of students in reading may not be far from the approaches employed by some teachers of English who attempt to teach reading (Oyetunde 2001). This researcher maintains that some of these teachers who claim to teach reading end up testing reading comprehension thereby getting their students more confused on what reading is all about. The researcher adds that, the emphasis in almost all the English textbooks is on aspects of reading comprehension such as literal recognition, word meaning and syntax and rarely on inference, evaluation and appreciation. Oyetunde (2001) further observes that materials promoting leisure reading especially for students are now made available in the markets and libraries. The books are now believed to be commercially produced by publishers and are directed at young adolescents. Example of such books as recorded by the researcher is Pacesetters series by Macmillan and Drumbeats published by Longmans written in English which is believed to have attempted to replace the imported popular reading materials such as James Hardly Chase which is loaded with American English and Denis Robins books characterized with archaic English, with indigenous materials. All these are efforts made to enhance voluntary reading by students yet the question of teaching reading in schools and the best approach to effectively pass it across to learners are still given scanty attention. This owes to the fact that every effort the teacher makes to employ the best approach boils down to that of testing reading comprehension. This is a major problem because virtually all the secondary school English teachers did not pass through the reading course during their time in the higher institution (Oyebola 2001)). Because of this deficiency, they replace teaching reading with testing reading comprehension which is the one they are familiar with. Thus, the problem of teaching reading becomes more compounded, turning out to be the case of a blind leading the blind when the teachers enter into the classrooms. Oyetunde, (2001) observes that except the departments specializing in language arts, reading is not taught formally in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
Omojuwa (2005) notes that teacher’s competence is a key factor in the provision of effective reading instruction for students. Teachers require a sound knowledge of the reading curriculum for that level and the right skills and abilities of how to package and present instruction in the best way to make pupils experience success in learning to read. Unfortunately, there seem to be a steady decline in the quality of English teachers in the secondary schools in Nigeria, a situation which contributes to the diminishing of students reading achievements. This researcher maintains that while there are still untrained teachers teaching in some schools, most of the trained ones are ill prepared to teach reading. They exhibit deficiencies in essential knowledge, abilities and skills required for reading instruction efficiency in a bilingual/ multilingual context.
            The issue of teacher’s competence must be properly addressed so as to ensure adequate provision of competent teachers for the first and second level of our educational system. Such teachers as those who possess the right knowledge and skills and are able to make the learning of reading not only easy and efficient but also able to quickly help the students sort out whatever confusion they may have early enough thereby saving money, time and waste of efforts in our education system. This amounts to good foundation for reading to learn at higher levels and equally guarantee a life long voluntary reading interest. Oyentunde (2001) is of the opinion that teacher – education programmes do not seem to emphasize reading and where it is a part of the syllabus, it gets overlooked or superficially treated because most teacher-trainers themselves lack the necessary background in reading. The consequence is that teachers at all levels, especially those teaching in the primary and secondary schools, do not pay attention to the development of reading skills in students.
            Poor teaching methodology contributes seriously to the failure of teaching reading. Reading is not being taught in any meaningful sense in many Nigerian classrooms. For example, Oyetunde (2001) states that beginning reading instructional activities tend to be an exercise of reciting passages from the books with little or no comprehension. Other features of beginning reading instruction that may be observed in the classrooms include memorizing or reciting the letters of the alphabet, letter naming, choral reading after the teacher and some form of phonics (phonemic awareness) instruction. These essentially represent teacher’s approaches to helping children learn to read.
            It is sad to note that even when supposed teachers of reading substitutes teaching reading to teaching reading comprehension, they end up testing reading comprehension instead of teaching it. Oyetunde (2001) has a clear analysis of the whole situation. As to what teachers do to help students read to learn, according to him, a fair assessment is that most teachers would seem to know what to do to consciously develop reading comprehension skills in students. Equally, in many so-called reading comprehension lessons, he believes that what goes on is actually a test of reading comprehension. This researcher sites an example of a typical reading comprehension lesson thus: the teacher asks the students to open to a particular page and read for some minutes. Teacher then asks them questions to test their understanding of the passage. The questions asked are mostly literal. And if he decides to treat difficult words, he merely asks students to single out the words they don’t understand; he then proceeds to explain the words to them or asks the class to look them up in the dictionary. This analysis clearly shows that no conscious attempt is ever made to develop in students specific word attack skills such as the use of context cues or structural analysis. The consequence of all these is that many students find reading a difficult or frustrating experience and the very few that manage to learn to read find it a wearisome task. This probably explains why students read to pass their examinations and professionals read only when it is absolutely necessary. Yetunde (2002) describes this tendency as a reluctant reading and learning syndrome and the higher illiteracy syndrome.
Given the general concern of the Nigerian public and other stake holders in education about the general decline of the reading interest of students at the various levels of the education system, and the general poor performance of students in external examinations, the need to investigate the relationship between reading interests and reading comprehension achievement of students becomes relevant. Also, since student’s waning interest in reading seem to lead to their performing below expectation in examinations, it cannot be allowed to continue. There is, therefore, need to carry out this study in order to draw the students interest to reading which will consequently lead them to cultivating a positive attitude towards reading generally.

The Place of Reading in the School Curriculum/Time Table
            Evidence abounds to support that reading has not been given its pride of place in subject classification and distribution on the time-table of either primary or secondary schools in Ebonyi State and Nigeria in general. Worse still, the curriculum did not make a clear provision for the place of reading. In fact, Fatimayin, (2004) pointed out that the state of reading and how it is being handled in the secondary schools in Nigeria is deplorable because there are no teachers of reading, no infrastructural facilities such as resource centers, books and the use of inappropriate strategy that can not promote the development of reading by teachers. The combined implication of the situation painted here is that most secondary school students, in the words Oyetunde (2001), do not know how to read basic texts and have negative attitude to reading and subsequently perform poorly in school subjects and public examinations.
            The curriculum stands as the road map towards the achievement of the goals of the National Policy on Education (2004) as it serves as a breakdown of the specified goals according to teachable, learnable and measurable units. Reading, which is the most vital area to facilitate the achievement of these goals seem to be totally ignored in the curriculum. Ajibola (2008) believes that each time there is a review of the curriculum, this vital area is still neglected. This may be as a result of what Obanya (2002:203) describes as curriculum overload especially in the language area. According to him,
Curriculum overload results when all the emphasis is on more and more content instead of a thorough re-examination of goals, objectives, methods and materials. It also occurs where there has been very little attempt to integrate closely related content areas and where very little distinction has been made between core and supplementary areas of curriculum content.

A lot of learning materials are packed in the curriculum leaving no room at all for some important materials like reading.
            Obanya (2002) also identifies a language curriculum at the basic education level:
·        Prescription (or that which is intended);
·        Practice (or that which is actually implemented); and
·        Outcome (or that which is in the final analysis achieved)
Obanya (2002) maintains that in ideal situations, there would be a perfect match between what is prescribed and what is achieved. In real situations, curriculum discrepancy arises in varying degrees and the mismatch between the intended, the practiced and the achieved curriculum can be quite wide. One school of curriculum theory believes that the achieved curriculum is the effective one – the real curriculum.
            The analysis above shows that the English language curriculum is not achieved when reading which is very vital in achieving other educational goals is not given its pride of place. If we base our assessment on the opinion of the theory stated above, then we can feel free to say that the English language curriculum needs a re-appraisal.
            Changes in the content of the curriculum has always been focused on the fact that every Nigerian should be able to read and write with understanding, and to apply such skills acquired to his/her daily life and to continue learning using the written word. However, there is a fall in reading ability in Nigerians today as recorded in Okon and Ansa (2005). These researchers further observe that up till now, the Nigerian Curriculum does not recognize that the teacher of reading has to be specially trained and this makes them resort to old methods of teaching comprehension and vocabulary. 

The Concept of Large Classes
            Large classes in Nigerian schools constitute a major problem in the allotment of periods in the school time table and it adversely affects the teaching and learning of reading. The geometric progression of student/pupil school enrolment is on the increase without corresponding facility provisions and even staff recruitment Abioye (2010). The resultant effect is large classes which has led to poor class control and management problems in our schools nation-wide. It is as a result of this that it becomes pertinent to identify ways of managing the problem for effective teaching and learning of reading, which will subsequently promote students reading interest.
            One of the major challenges encountered in the school system, according to Maduabum (2004), is the problem of large classes orchestrated by the teaming population of Nigerian parents to have at least, a tolerable level of qualitative education for their ward. Ideally, a normal class size should be between 35 and 45 and anything above that falls short of the acceptable standard Abioye (2010). A situation where the population of a given class is 50, 100 or above, the class is said to be large or overpopulated. In some schools, a single class has many segments that run in streams ranging from (a) to (n) or more, and a single teacher is assigned to teach a particular subject to the whole stream. This in turn places a load of over 20 periods a week on the teachers against the average standard of about 12 to 15 periods a week.
                        
Problems of Large Classes
            According to Ekpenyong (2007) class overpopulation is characterized by the following problems
i.          inadequate Infrastructure
The rapid growth rate in students enrolment is not matched with adequate provision of infrastructural facilities like enough and spacious classrooms, teaching aids, related texts and a good and well equipped library
(ii)       inadequate and lack of spacious classrooms.
Abioye (2010) observes that due to the large number of student’s enrolment in schools, the available classrooms are not just enough to accommodate them.
            In most cases, the existing classrooms are not spacious. A situation like that does not give room for all students to bring their lockers to school. The researcher’s observation indicated that the few students that reported early enough during school reopening for a new term are usually the only ones opportune to have their lockers in the classroom. Others hang around inside the classroom, the corridor, and squat or sit by the widow frames. Some share their seats while some sit on lockers. This is not conducive enough for the teaching and learning of reading. This type of seating arrangements make it difficult for students to copy notes, do assignments jot down points and write tests. Ekpenyong (2007) holds that some big boys and big girls in the class intimidate the younger ones to offer their backs as a reading table or writing material. Whichever position the students take to read and write, the crowded atmosphere makes it a nightmare to the students who easily manufacture reasons why they did not come to school with their reading and writing materials or why they did not write their class assignments.
A class such as the one described above easily generates a bigger problem like noise in the classroom and poor class control by the teacher. When students do not sit comfortably, fatigue and boredom easily set in and when these happen, the students will employ all kinds of trick to force the teacher to end the lesson. According to Ekpenyong (2007), when teaching a subject like reading or reading comprehension where the teacher or the students usually read aloud in turns, pronunciation errors and other forms of reading mistakes are usually ridiculed with prolonged noise. They mimic supposedly correct pronunciation as if they were errors. Even when the teacher reads and emphasizes correct pronunciation, the crowd mimics and jeer and such reactions only confuse the weak ones and that makes them loose interest in reading, while only the very brilliant few learn from the exercise. Thus, large classes are one of the major problems of developing students’ interest in reading which subsequently leads to poor reading comprehension achievement.           

Environmental/Cultural Factors and the Students Reading Interest
According to Araromi (2002), the cultural background of the child plays preponderant role in his interest in reading and his reading ability. Both the home and the school environments stimulate the child’s intellectual ability and also promote his general knowledge. Homes that are equipped with language materials (books, journals, radio and television) prepare the child properly for school learning.
            If a child comes from a home where the language of instruction used in schools is not used at home, he is some what inhibited and he cannot be expected to perform as well as his counterpart who comes from a home that is well equipped with language learning materials and who understands the language of instruction being constantly used by his parents at home. We must admit however that there are exceptions. Many secondary school students in Nigeria come from homes that are ill-equipped materially and consequently cannot be expected to perform well in their school subjects, including reading especially, at the early stage.
            The environment the child finds himself plays an important role to his reading development. According to Anderson (2011), the preschool years are the crucial ones for children's language and literacy learning; what happens during those years has a lasting effect on all learning. Morrow maintains that in all socioeconomic levels, some children who have access to print and construct meaning from it, learn to read prior to school entrance and that early experiences with language, stories and print are formative. This early exposure goes a long way to determining the child’s interest in reading.  Children need access to print, but they also need someone to mediate between their own language and the language of the text. This person, according to Anderson (2011), models reading and helps the child to construct meaning from print. Language acquisition and literacy experiences begin at birth. Students lacking previous experiences with skills such as print awareness, alphabetic principle, and phonemic awareness need supplementary instruction to ensure they do not lag behind their peers. Therefore, elementary school teachers must provide an environment that allows students with disabilities to have access to experiences they may have missed in their preschool years.
            However, during the 1930s and 1940s, educators like Morphett & Washbourne in Oduolowu (2006) were of the opinion that children should not be taught to read until they were six and a half years old and performed well on reading readiness tests. Their opinion was based on a study showing that most children who received formal reading instruction when they were that age usually succeed in learning to read. Subsequent researchers like Krashen (2003) and Carr (2010) started looking into children who learned to read without direct instruction before school entrance. They concluded that children learned to read naturally although a great deal of supportive and interactive behaviour conducive to learning was apparent. Overwhelmingly, the studies show that children from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds learn to read early. The Nigerian situation is slightly different. Here many children from poor backgrounds, mostly illiterate homes, do not usually have any contact with any print material in their preschool years. They often start off their primary schooling without reading readiness.
In addition to the contributions made so far by various researchers, Anderson (2011) adds that studies of day-care experiences show that children’s literacy learning depends heavily upon what adult caregivers do. This researcher studies the relationship between the literacy activities discussed, guided or modeled by caregivers and children’s voluntary literacy behaviour. The discovery indicates that few day-care classrooms are designed to encourage literacy through writing centers, lots of books, labels and prints. In centers where high literacy behaviour is observed, however, adults engage children in frequent reading and writing activities. They not only make books available, they make them unavoidable. Their enthusiasm for books and stories becomes contagious. In the centers where low literacy behaviour is observed, caregivers perceive play as a time for social and motor development; they do not model or facilitate literacy activities and therefore, few occur.
Children who learn to read before school entrance are those who are read to, who have someone to answer their questions, and who like to make marks on paper. They are called “paper and pencil” kids. Studies show clearly that children need not come from privileged homes in order to develop interest in reading or to learn to read early, but they must have access to print and have someone to read to them (Mason 2003). This researcher concludes that the way children interact with books in many homes differ from how they are expected to interact with books in school. He equally hold the view that children who come to school with well-developed skills in “taking meaning from books” are clearly at an advantage.
Other researchers like Potter (2011) looks at the acquisition of reading from a developmental point of view. Potter’s idea is that learning to read and write begins very early in life and follows a continuum instead of appearing in distinct stages. He shows that children acquire considerable knowledge about language, reading and writing before coming to school. By the time they are two or three years old, many children can identify signs, labels, and logos they see in their homes and communities. Krashen (2003) equally finds that reading and writing develop concurrently and interrelatedly. This researcher establishes that children learn to read through active engagement and construct their own understanding of how written language works, and that adults help learners by modeling behaviours such as writing a shopping list as well as interact with children around print, reading together from pictures and text.
It is very clear that these researchers did not put into consideration children from illiterate homes and those from very remote villages where they had no encounter whatsoever with print materials before they started school; even when they started school, there was no library both in the school and the community around them. The children they were talking about were not just children from literate homes but children from privileged homes. There is still evidence of children who were not exposed to print materials (Children from illiterate homes) who competed favourably with children with early exposure to print materials.
However, Carr’s (2010) studies of the homes of children who had learned to read early indicate that someone in the home read to the children, answer their questions and encourage them to write. The researcher counts  literacy events (which they see as any encounter in which the child is involved in reading, writing, or engaging with print), and their finding is that prior to school entrance, some children have hundreds of literacy events, whereas others have few or none. The amount of experience that five year-old children have with books, according to these researchers, is directly related to their reading interest and reading comprehension at seven and eleven years old. Children who engage in hundreds of literacy events enter school understanding more about the world than children with minimal literacy events; they excel at the end of elementary school. They equally hold the view that six years of schooling could not make up for the loss children suffered by not engaging in literary events in their early lives.
The views of these researchers show that academic achievement is closely related to early print exposure. However, it is possible for a gifted child without any prior print exposure to excel together with his other counterparts with early print exposure.
            A print rich environment is a tremendous asset to enhance the child’s interest in reading and reading ability. The home should be the place where children should first be exposed to books before the child starts school. Some of the children from poor homes do not have the advantage of early access to print rich environment until they start school. Even when they start school, the money may not be available to buy all the necessary books for reading. This means that poverty plays a hindering role to the child’s reading interest. Potter (2011) rightly pointed out that there are proportionally many more reading failures among children who come from poor homes than there are among their more affluent age peers. The poor illiterate home may not rank the purchase of books high as against the purchase of food. More so, the illiterate parents will not afford to read story books to their children at bedtime. That may explain why Potter (2011) notes that illiteracy and poverty are contributory factors to the students’ waning interest in reading and poor reading habits.
            Equally, government has not measured up to standard in the provision of books in school libraries. Saturday Sun (2011) notes that some schools do not have libraries at all and the available ones are stuffed with old and uninteresting books. Good libraries should be up to date with current materials including daily newspapers, magazines and novels to cover the various reading interests of the child. Almost all the primary schools especially in the rural areas do not have libraries. Even when the whole world is information crazy, evident in the proliferation of computers and internet facilities, Nigeria seems not to be interested otherwise every school (both primary and secondary) should have a library which must be filled with current books, computers and internet facilities. This further accounts for our backwardness or slow developmental pace because reading widens ones horizon. Thus the poor print-rich environment further alienates the child from reading which consequently affects reading comprehension achievement.

Methods of Teaching Reading
            The method of teaching reading employed by any teacher greatly affects the interest of the students which consequently determine the students corresponding performance. Many writers have defined method in various ways. According to Azikiwe (2005) methods are the ways educational aims are translated to practice as well as reality. It is in practice that a particular method of teaching could be evaluated to see how educational aims have been realized. In Azikiwe’s (2005:68) own words, “Method means a set of teaching procedures to follow in delivering our lessons.” This researcher further explained that method is also seen as “the overall plan for the orderly presentation of language material, not part of which contradicts, and all of which is based upon the selected approach.   
Omojuwa (2005) on the other hand, defines method as an overall plan for the orderly presentation of language learning materials. She believes that method has a procedure that agrees with a particular approach view or assumptions which have to do with the reading act as well as teaching and learning reading. Omojuwa (2005) holds the same opinion with Azikiwe (2005) that method is not static but changes frequently. The importance of teaching methods in reading achievements cannot be over-emphasized. The major reasons why many students fail to read owes to the fact that the right teaching methods have not been applied, not that they just cannot learn.
            In as much as there are many methods available for the teaching of languages, not all of them would be appropriate for the teaching of reading. Azikiwe (2005), notes this when she stated that there are many methods from which to choose from when preparing a lesson because some methods could be effective for teaching some aspects of language while ineffective for other. A teacher makes his choice of method based on the nature of content and the teacher’s perceptions about how best his students would learn what he has to teach.
            Several arguments have been going on based on the best language teaching method. This led to the birth of many methods of teaching language. Nweke in Azikiwe (2005) lists: Class Method, Self-teaching Methods, Inquiry Methods, Project Method, Activity Method and Induction Method. There are still many more language teaching methods such as the Grammar-translation method (GTM), the Direct or Natural method (DM), the Audio – Lingual Method (ALM), the silent way method (SWM), the total physical response method (TPRM), the Audio Visual method (AVM), the play method (PM) the Oral Method (OM), the Eclectic Way (EW), to mention but few. Webb in Maduabum (2004) is of the view that the controversy over which method is the best has been beside the point, and has obscured the important areas such as the quality of teachers for the tasks, their proficiency or mastery of the language and the realization that the main object of learning a foreign language is to enable learners to use the language in life situations. This means that the effectiveness of teaching and learning of a second language should not be solely attributed to the methods used. Azikiwe (2005), therefore advises that the teacher should adapt or use methods depending on some factors such as the class, availability of resources, the ability of the learners and lastly the preparation of the teacher. Webb in Maduabum (2004) warns that a method will become inefficient if inflexibility is not applied. This is especially the case in Nigerian situation where there is a nagging problem of large classes. This problem requires the type of teaching method that will enable the teacher to reach individual member of the class and which will equally help every student to benefit from each lessons. Thus the best teaching method for teaching reading should wholly depend on the teacher based on his/her understanding of his/her students.
            For the purpose of this study, there are many methods of teaching reading to enhance comprehension. The question of the best method continues to promote lively debate, with experts believing passionately in one approach or another. The reality, according to Dorrell (2002) is that all of the methods have shown success to some degree. The main teaching methods can broadly be categorized into those which employ phonics and those which do not.

The Phonic Method
According to Higgins, Boone and Lovitt (2002), children learn how to decode in phonics methods of teaching how to read. They look at the individual or groups of letters, recognize the sounds and blend them together to form a fluent word. Children can therefore read new words which they have never been taught. In alternative teaching methods, children learn to recognize whole words or sentences rather than individual sounds. Repetition in books or through flashcards is used to enable the child to memorize new words. They may also be taught to take clues from pictures accompanying the text. The Phonics Method requires teachers to guide learners to think of the sound(s) that should normally be associated with syllables in each word. In this method there will be a lot of "sounding out" exercises in which a whole classroom "sounds-out" together in accompaniment with DVDs, or videos, or Powerpoint projected exercises. The names of the alphabet letters are a prerequisite to the use of this method, but the sounds associated with each syllable are the main points of focus.


The Alphabet Method
This method, according to Dorrell (2002), deals with teaching the names of alphabet letters (learning your ABCs). It was once thought to be adequate to lead children into the reading of words. This was expressed in 1620 when flash cards, booklets, and classroom slates were used to teach the letters of the alphabet in rural America. As a method for teaching reading, the Alphabet Method is no longer promoted. If a child or adult comes to school without knowing the English alphabet, this deficiency is remedied as a separate topic. In the Alphabet Method, a normal child will easily learn to say with confidence "Y YES BYE DRY LADY. The words show that the letter "Y" can be used at the beginning of a word, or within the word, or at the end of a word, and the word can be of various lengths. Unfortunately the child or adult will quickly be able to recite those words from memory. The recitation, however charming, has not advanced the learner into understanding that the letters are meant to signal sounds that ought to be uttered. According to Dorrell (2002), the Alphabet Method is no longer thought to be a valid way to lead a person into the sounding out of syllables nor does it reveal the phonetic basis for English orthography which is the basis for a person to read eventually with integrity.

The Whole Word Method
 According to Anderson (2011), learners are expected to look at the general appearance of words in this teaching method. Then from the shape of the word's appearance, the pupil is expected to memorize the sounds that should be spoken. The goal is for learners to see each word as a little picture and associate the teacher's spoken word with the little picture.

The Linguistic Method
According to Neuman and Roskos (2005), teachers adhere to the Phonic method above, but they try to avoid the deception of deliberately showing misspelled words to children or other learners. Instead they search for those few English words that are already spelled consistently and they use only those words to instill the concept that letters are trustworthy indicators of sounds to be uttered. Unfortunately, until now, their lesson plans had to be quite short since English is riddled with arbitrary spellings. Nor is it easy to isolate words that are quite phonically pure. In the end children still have to make the transition to the majority of words that are spelled in 36,000 random configurations of letters. But, the shortage of pure phonetic words has limited this otherwise valid approach. A new resource, however, greatly resolves the scarcity of naturally-occurring phonic words.

The I.T.A Method (Initial Teaching Alphabet)
This method has been promoted with dozens of variations. According to Whitehurst (2003), since English tries to signal us to make 42 various speech sounds by using 26 alphabetic letters, some linguists naturally suggest that we simply need more letters to work with. The ITA introduces about 12 new symbols or characters that designate our speech cues more accurately. By having these extra characters a reader more accurately knows what sounds to utter. Purists at heart, some linguists not only wish that all words were spelled phonetically, but even then, they would complain further that there are not 42 letters in our alphabet so something must be done about that. Whitehurst (2003) further stated that in 1845 Sir Isaac Pitman and A. J. Ellis published the first book that popularized this method, titled "The Alphabet of Nature." In the book he claimed there had been 27 previous attempts to correct the shortage of letters in the English alphabet. Lots of other people have also placed logic above social convention. They want a letter for every English speech sound. These purists hope against hope that everyone will someday convert and use their bigger alphabets. Will we cheerfully buy new computer keyboards with their extra letters?
The ITA Method is an initial teaching alphabet only. It is used in similar ways to phonics methods, introducing children to a reliable system where letters are always used in reliable trustworthy ways to give us cues about pronunciation. After one or two years, children are weaned from the comfort of the ITA alphabet and nursed over to our normal spelling standards. As with phonics, little harm is done.

The Laubach Method
            According to Laubach (2002), this method of teaching reading tremendously benefited nations that had no written orthography for their spoken languages. He analyzed hitherto-unknown tribal sounds and their styles of speech with the goal of providing an alphabet for each tribe or nation. Then he would train teachers or leaders who soon taught their people how to read. He was known as "Apostle to illiterates." His program was called "Each One Teach one." Since he had control of the requirements for each new alphabet, he could for example identify 35 speech sounds used by a particular tribe and then create an alphabet that had 35 letters or symbols representing each of their 35 sounds. With that people could learn to read within a day or two. Soon these tribes and countries began producing their own literature, writing their on biographies, and documenting their governing rules and discussions. Laubach provided alphabets and taught reading to 103 separate tribes and nations. For English-speaking countries he wrote the book "Learn English the New Way." In it he recommends a limited number of words whose spelling is changed to make it into phonic form, but he also used two diacritical markings to clarify pronunciation. He required use of the slash and the apostrophe. So essentially this method was based on the phonics method except that a few additional markings were introduced to be used only during months of introduction to reading.
                     
Gender and Reading Interest
            In the African setting, gender has a way of affecting almost everything – academics and circular life – reading therefore is not an exception. According to Oyebola (2004) gender has a way of being influenced by stereotypes. This researcher defines stereotype as a person or thing seeming to conform to a heavily accepted type. Stereotyping is culturally based. Every culture has a way of influencing the behaviour of men/boys and women/girls (Oyebola 2004). This scholar maintains that this stereotyping is consequently carried over to the school system where certain subjects are usually seen as masculine. For example, science, Technology and Mathematics are usually dominated by men while other areas like Home Economics, Literature, Secretarial Studies, etc, are usually perceived as ‘feminine’.
In the first chapter of Smith’s book Reading don’t fix no Chevys (2002: 10 – 20) is a quick review of a major findings of research related to boys and reading:
·                    Boys do not comprehend narrative (fiction) as well as girls.
·                    Boys have much less interest in leisure reading than girls.
·                    Boys are more inclined to read magazines as well as newspaper articles.
·                    Boys are more inclined to read comic books and graphics novels than girls
·                    Boys like to read about hobbies, sports and things they do or want to do.
·                    Boys tend to enjoy escapism and humour.
·                    Some groups of boys are passionate about science fiction or fantasy.
·                    The appearance of a book and cover is important to boys.
·                    Few boys entering school call themselves “non-readers” but by high school, over half do.
·                    Boys tend to think they are bad readers.
·                    If reading is perceived as feminized, then boys will go to great lengths to avoid it.
Smith (2002) observes that most young adult sections in public libraries are filled with fiction with very little recreational non – fiction. If there is recreational non-fiction, it is more than likely to be self-help, health – related, about teen issues or pop star biographies. The researcher believes that there might be magazines, but the chances are they are aimed more at girls than boys. Furthermore, comic books are more than likely not to be there, and graphic novels, if collected, are not features. According to the researcher, there is probably not a newspaper lying around. Smith in his book maintains that secondary school libraries, which do not highlight young adult materials to be read outside of the curriculum, offer boys just as few options. Thus, for most boys finding something to read in a library is like running an obstacle race.
Some writers also observe that the language, characterization and illustrations in textbooks and general reading materials produced in Nigeria reflect a gender bias (Oyebola 2004). Areo in Oyebola (2004) observed that book contents show women in a few stereotyped, restricted occupations and careers, say, nursing, secretarial duties, receptionist roles, modeling, etc, while men are shown as architects doctors estate agents, etc.
Moreover, O'Reilly and McNamara (2007) explored whether there were any gender-differences on measures of cognitive ability and science achievement among 1,651 male and female high school students. They found that males scored higher than females on measures of science knowledge, state science test, and passage comprehension.
Bügel and Buunk (2006) examined the impact of passage topic on gender differences in FL reading comprehension using 2,980 high school students in the Netherlands. They selected a total of 11 different English reading passages including five texts with a ‘male’ topic and six texts with a ‘female’ topic. Males scored significantly better on the multiple choice comprehension items for essays about laser thermometers, volcanoes, cars, and football players. Females achieved significantly higher scores on the comprehension tests for essays on text topics such as midwives, a sad story, and a housewife’s dilemma. Bügel and Buunk (2006) included a gender-neutral passage in their FL study, and they found that males performed significantly better than females on the gender-neutral text. This finding contrasts with previous research which suggests that females are better foreign language learners than male. Bügel and Buunk (2006) concluded that differences between the sexes in prior knowledge contribute to gender differences in foreign language reading comprehension.
In addition to Smith’s (2002) research findings on boy’s readership, Barbieri (2005) finds that seventh grade girls read for personal reasons: to clarify their beliefs and to discover that they are not alone. Like Atwell (2007), she finds that time, choice and response are necessary parts of a literacy programme if students are to develop enthusiasm for reading. Psychologists Brown and Gilliam’s (2002) finding show that girls’ sense of identity is deeply rooted in their perceptions of relationships, which they see as a way of knowing and opening between self and others that create a channel for discovery – an avenue for knowledge. In the views of Brown and Gillam, girls read to explore relationships, it is central to their reading. These researchers equally find that girls read to search for answers to personal problems that bother them and that students want the freedom to choose the books they read, to talk with peers about the books and to respond to reading in ways they choose.

The Chief Examiner’s Reports of WASSCE Past Examinations
According to The Chief Examiner’s Reports (2005), the general performance of candidates in almost all the subjects especially in the English Language for the year was not impressive. The main weaknesses observed in the scripts of the candidates had to do with insufficient exposure to the rudiments of the English Language. According to the reports, students exhibited lack of familiarity with the required formats of the skills of writing. They also had the problem of construction of loose sentences, transliteration from mother tongues and abuse of basic rules of grammar. Their performances in reading comprehension tests were also very poor. This weaknesses displayed by the students owes to the fact that students do not read as they ought to due to what researchers earlier traced to failure in students reading interest. Also, Sulzby (2005) found that reading and writing develop concurrently and interrelatedly. Thus, the reading problems of students are manifested in written examinations. To buttress this point further, Anderson (2011) reveals that there is a high positive relationship between achievement in English language and other school subjects and by the same token attributes declining performance of students in examinations to low proficiency in the English language. This researcher also notes that the amount of free reading done outside of school has consistently been found to relate to growth in vocabulary, reading comprehension, verbal fluency and general information.
In the same vein, the Chief Examiner’s Reports on WASSCE (2006) show that there was a little improvement in some subjects including the English Language compared to the previous year. Among the areas the students performed poorly are the reading comprehension tests. In the reading comprehension tests, the reports indicate that the students did not perform well in those questions whose answers are identifiable from the two passages set. The main problem was that many of them copied out what looked like answers from the passages when they were supposed to use their own words to present the answers. According to the reports, in the case of replacement of words, some candidates failed to put their options back into the context to see whether or not they fit perfectly into the text.  These problems identified still points to the fact that students still have reading problems which needs to be seriously tackled.
            The performance of the students in the 2007 WASSCE is recorded poor by the Chief Examiner’s Reports. Among the areas the students performed poorly in the English Language was in the comprehension passage tests. The students were presenting their answers in meaningless sentences instead of phrases. Equally, despite the fact that the passages presented for the comprehension test were quite interesting, the students seemed not to understand it judging from the out-of-context answers they gave. These poor performances show that the students are still having reading comprehension problems.
Although the student’s performance in May/June 2008 was better than that of the previous years, it was still a poor show. The Chief Examiner’s Reports indicate that the students were ill-prepared for WAEC examinations due to some reasons. One of the reasons as deduced by the
Reports which relates to reading is inadequate coverage of the syllabus. This may be attributable to vast learning items lumped in English language. Such items include reading, reading comprehension, oral English, grammar and essay writing. These are vast areas of English that would have been allotted separate times in the time table. So many things to learn and little time to learn them contribute immensely to student’s failure. Students on their own part have not been able to cover up the gap by reading at home, may be because they are poor readers or they do not read at all, or simply because of poor reading comprehension.
Spelling errors, according to Chief Examiner’s Report of 2009 SSCE, were the major problems students encountered during the examination. The answers supplied by the students in the comprehension passage tests were full of spelling errors and that made the students to score low in that section. This combined with other problems brought about the poor performance recorded in 2009. This may not just be because the English teacher did not teach it well but for the reason that students do not read as they ought to. Research shows that good readers are equally good writers. An avid reader unconsciously learns the correct spelling of most words in addition to the numerous things that is learnt while reading. That is why it is necessary to cultivate a voluntary reading habit on students which is part of the benefits to be derived from this study.

The Chief Examiner’s Reports of WASSCE (2010) indicate that poor communication skill was the bane of the student’s success during the examination. The whole essence of studying English language based on the provisions of the National Policy on Education is for effective communication both oral and written. For a student to communicate effectively, many things need to be in place. Ekpu (2005) pointed out that good readers make good writers. Judging from this, the very first step to combat the massive failure in English language in external examinations is to introduce students to reading.

            Oluikpe in Oyebola (2004) explained many methods and approaches to teaching the art of writing and almost all of the methods and approaches have reading as its backbone. For example, he stated that when teachers advise their students to read novels to improve their standard of English, they are expressing the unflinching faith in traditional method of teaching writing. The researcher believes that a good knowledge of vocabulary items and sentence patterns, contrasts of usages of speech and writing and then, the practice in the recognition of different styles of writing can never work and no meaningful result achieved if previous reading has not been done.

The reports of WASSCE 2011 by the Chief Examiners reveals that one of the major problems the students encountered in the comprehension passage tests was Poor understanding of what the question demands        This problem, which relates to reading, was equally identified by the Chief Examiner as one of the reasons why students fail examinations. According to Ekpu (2005), Omojuwa (2005), Udosen and Ukpak (2005), reading is making meaning from texts. The interpretation is that a poor reader or a person who finds reading boring also has comprehension problems. When a student has comprehension problems, he/she is bound to have a wrong interpretation of questions during examinations which lead to answering examination questions out of context and this culminates to failure.

The summary of The Chief Examiner’s Reports indicates that there is a yearly poor performance of students in WASSCE. Thus, for the students to perform very well in examinations a good reading foundation has to be laid and students’ interest equally enhanced in reading. This is one of the reasons why this research is carried out.

Analysis of Students Five-Year Performances on WASSCE 
There has been a yearly poor performance of senior secondary school students in external examinations in Nigeria recorded in almost all subjects especially, the English Language (Chief Examiner's Reports of West African School Certificate 2011). Thus, the poor performance indicates that students either did not understand what they read or they did not read at all.
            The analysis of the student’s performance in English language over the past five years (2005-2009) was put at the average of 40% credit (this day, April 9, 2009). In 2005, 25.63% of students who sat for May/June WASSCE had credit pass in English language while 36.93% failed out-rightly. Then, in 2006, 32.48% got credit pass in English language while 29.65% failed. Equally 2007 recorded 30.32% credit pass in the same subject while 30.25 failed. The same poor performance was recorded in 2008 where 35.02% credit pass was recorded for English language and 31% failed. In 2009, it was another poor performance of 25.99% credit pass and 36.69% failure. Another poor performance was recorded in 2011 where 22.16% got credit pass and 37.13 failed.
English Language
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2011
% Passes at Credit Level(Grades 1-6)
25.63
32.48
30.32
35.02
25.99
22.16
% of Failure
36.93
29.65
30.25
31
36.69
37.13
Source: Nigerian Examination Committee of WAEC in the communiqué
issued at the end of their 2011 meeting.

The percentage of failure in this statistics surpasses that of credit pass which is the acceptable level for admission into the Nigerian University. It should be noted that if the percentage of the number of candidates that scored P7 and P8 is added to the number of failures (as ordinary pass cannot secure admission in most of the Nigerian universities), then the number of failures will increase. This shows that serious attention needs to be paid to reading and reading interests of the students which is the key to improvements.

The Relationship between Reading and Students Academic Achievement
            Researchers have continued to provide evidence of the relationship of reading proficiency to academic achievement. For instance, A study by Brantmeier (2003) of the effects of voluntary reading on Japanese University Students proficiency in English, found that students who reported reading more English books voluntarily experienced significantly greater improvement in reading more English books, experienced significantly greater improvement in reading ability and vocabulary knowledge than those who reported reading less as measured by pre-and post – test. The students also reported that the voluntary reading programme helped them to improve on their English.
In addition to its cognitive benefits, voluntary reading helps to develop a positive attitude among students towards reading in the second language, it also increase their motivation to read in the second language Koda (2005). Perhaps, this is because the more one reads, the easier it becomes.
Indeed, Tsang (2006), in comparing the effects of three programme, the one that included extensive voluntary reading was found to be significantly effective overall. In the area of content and language use, the extensive voluntary programme was also the only one that was found to be significantly effective.
One of the best ways to help students increase their language proficiency is to encourage them to read voluntarily and extensively (Krashen 2005). Krashen conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis of forty-one studies on in-school free reading, sustained silent reading and selected reading programmes. In thirty-eight of forty one studies, students who engaged in voluntary reading did as well or better on tests of reading comprehension than students who were given direct instruction in reading. Krashen’s meta-analysis showed that in-school voluntary reading programmes are related to vocabulary development, knowledge of grammar, writing and oral language facility, and that correlations between voluntary reading and scores on literary proficiency tests are not always highly significant statistically; however, they are consistent and show that free voluntary reading does make a difference. Krashen (2005) also examined the results of out-of-school studies in which participants gave self reports of their free voluntary reading. The result of these studies confirm the in-school studies: more voluntary reading results in better reading comprehension and related literacy skills.
The same perception towards voluntary reading was held by the students studied by McQuittan (2004), in which he overwhelmingly found voluntarily reading to be not only more pleasurable but also more beneficial for language acquisition than instruction in grammar.
Students who read independently become better readers, score higher on achievement tests in all subject areas and have greater content knowledge than those who do not (Stanovich and Cunningham 2003). This owes to the fact that the understanding of a text can be hindered or facilitated by one’s knowledge of vocabulary items which results in one’s ability or inability to sustain meaning and understanding through complex sentences, discern meaning from figures of speech, interpret idioms and figurative use of words.
Day, Omur and Hiramatsu (2001) in their study of 191 high-school and 397 University Japanese English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students engaged students in sustained silent reading for pleasure. At the end of the treatment, they found that these students scored significantly higher than the control group in correcting and identifying the meanings of target vocabulary items.
In a repeated study conducted in Singapore using a similar design and involving over 500 students from Grades 11 to 3, Elley (2001) finds the same to be true. After three years of following the Reading Acquisition and Language Programme (REALP), the students made significantly more gains in vocabulary and other language skills than the control groups. In reviewing the Singapore and Fiji studies, Elly asserts that children who are exposed to an extensive range of interesting and illustrated storybooks, who are encouraged to read on their own and share them with other children are consistently found to learn the target language more quickly. Not only did it lead them to improvement in reading, writing and language use, it also lead to a positive attitude towards reading, which would help to increase students’ language proficiency in the long term. He added that they appeared to learn the language incidentally when immersed in a meaningful text.     
However, the most convincing evidence for the benefits of voluntary reading comes from that which has come to be known as the “book flood” studies (Elly & Mangubhai 2003), which looks at the effect of voluntary reading on the English language proficiency of Fiji elementary school children. These studies, which studies from about a hundred to several thousand students, and for a period of about one to about three years, provide evidence of the remarkable increase made by these students on measures of language use (which the researcher specified as oral language, reading comprehension and writing), language knowledge (also included word recognition, vocabulary knowledge and grammar), as well as academic performance (as measures by the examinations used across the Fiji elementary reading interest established in the primary school level). This stand as a sure foundation for higher level reading in the secondary school as well with a corresponding better performance in English language and other subjects.
Greaney(2007) reveals that there is a high positive relationship between achievement in English language and other school subjects and by the same token attributed declining performance of students in examinations to low proficiency in English language. This researcher also noted that the amount of free reading done outside of school has consistently been found to relate to growth in vocabulary, reading comprehension, verbal fluency and general information.

2.2       Theoretical Framework
2.2.1   Theories of Learning
            There are many learning theories propounded to help teachers deliver their lessons effectively to affect positive learning outcomes in students. Notable among them are Edward L. Thorndike’s theory of connectivism which results in transfer of learning and motivation as well as Anderson’s Schema-Theoritical Model of Reading which emphasizes the importance of background knowledge to text comprehension.

2.2.1   Anderson’s Schema-Theoritical Model of Reading
            Anderson (2011) analyzes a type of interactive model of reading, namely a schema-theoretical model. It describes in detail how the background knowledge of the learner interacts with the reading task and illustrates how a student’s knowledge and previous experience with the world is crucial to deciphering a text. The ability to use this schemata, or background knowledge, plays a fundamental role in one’s trial to comprehend a text. Schema theory is based on the notion that past experiences lead to the creation of mental frameworks that help a reader make sense of new experiences. Smith (2002:14) calls schemes the “extensive representations of more general patterns or regularities that occur in our experience”. For instance one’s generic scheme of an airplane will allow him to make sense of airplane he has not previously flied with. This means that past experiences will be related to new experiences, which may include the knowledge of objects, situations, and events as well as knowledge of procedures for retrieving, organizing and interpreting information. Anderson (2011) presents research showing that recall of information in a text is affected by the reader’s schemata and explains that a reader comprehends a message when he is able to bring to mind a schema that gives account of the objects and events described in the message. For Anderson (2011:38), comprehension is the interaction between old and new information. The researcher emphasizes: “To say that one has comprehended a text is to say that one has found a mental ‘home’ for the information in the text or that one has modified an existing mental home in order to accommodate that new information”. Therefore, a learner’s schemata will restructure itself to accommodate new information as that information is added to the system or knowledge in store. It is the intercourse of the old and new information that guarantees comprehension.
This theory is highly related to this study because reading is all about comprehension. More so, experience or what a child already knows is very important in achieving reading comprehension.

2.2.3   Edward L. Thorndike’s Theory of Connectivism
           
Thorndike’s theory in Maduabum (2004) has to do with stimulus and responses. It involves three laws: laws of readiness exercise and effect. The law of readiness states that the learners’ background knowledge plays a great role in learning. This means that there must be previous knowledge at the background to help the learner face the level of learning he/she is attempting. The implication is that the learner must be prepared for learning. The law of exercise states that there must be practice before any meaningful learning takes place. On the other hand, the law of effect states that anything done that guarantees any positive or desired effect becomes associated with that situation it was carried out.      
A hungry cat was enclosed in a box with a dish of food placed outside the box. The cat made desperate efforts to get to the food but could not until it accidentally pulled the string attached to the box. The box opened and the cat found its way out and consumed the food. The whole process was repeated by Thorndike and the cat made several efforts and once again pulled the string accidentally and went out to eat the food. This continued until the cat got used to stamping in correct responses and stamping out incorrect ones to get the food. This theory is clear evidence that learning does not only involve constant practice but is encouraged by positive effects.
            In this study, the researcher adopted Edward L. Thorndike’s theory of learning because it encourages exercise and practice. Reading involves mental exercise and constant practice, and constant practice in reading would lead to reading comprehension which would subsequently lead to greater comprehension achievement.
            Furthermore, this theory was useful to this study because it upholds that the learner’s background knowledge plays a prominent role to learning. This is in line with the schema-analytical theory discussed above. Reading comprehension requires the learner’s knowledge in store to be achieved.  
More so, this theory was adopted for this study because it would aid transfer of learning. According to Azikiwe (2005) for learning to be seen to have taken place, the child should be able to use the knowledge skills and information acquired to solve related problems. A child, who has interest in reading and is constantly reading, is likely to, at a point, begin to understand even what was incomprehensible before, and then begin to perform well academically as well as use what was learnt through reading to solve other academic and life problems.
            Equally, Thorndike’s theory encourages motivation. Azikiwe (2005) stated that motivation is another aspect of psychology of learning that guides the learner to achieve the desired change in behaviour. This researcher defines motivation as the arousal of the tendency to act or behave towards a goal which is selected in preference to all other possible goals. Edem (2005) cited the concepts related to motivation to include interest, need, attitude and aspirations and all these are highly related to this study.

2.3       Empirical Studies
            Related empirical studies to this present study have been done. Five of such studies were discussed.
Kosemani and Ituen (2005) studied students’ approaches to reading in public and private secondary schools in Rivers State. The survey design was adopted for the study. The sample for the study was drawn through simple random sampling technique from 16 secondary schools in Rivers State. A total of 608 students were drawn from SS1 to SS3. The instrument for data collection was a Likert-type questionnaire            , divided into four sections which were designed to elicit responses on students’ attitude to reading, their preferred reading contexts both in the school and at home, and their degree of perseverance in the reading task. A reliability co-efficient of 0.87 was obtained. Their findings include:
·        there is significant difference between the students in public and private schools regarding their attitude to reading;
·        a significant difference exists between the students in public and private schools regarding their mechanical approaches to reading;
·        there is a significant difference between the public and private school students’ preferred reading contexts with particular reference to their home environment;
·        a significant difference exists between the students in public and private schools concerning the degrees of perseverance they possessed in reading.
   This study reviewed was highly interested in reading just like this present study but the major difference is that it was mainly devoted to students’ approaches to reading. It totally ignored the students reading interest which is one of the major keys to determining their achievement in reading comprehension. This present study would fill this gap.
       Yetunde (2002) conducted a study on environmental factors and positive pleasure reading: a case study of the reading habits of secondary school students in Ondo Local Government Area. Six secondary schools were randomly selected from 36 secondary schools and 240 students were used. The findings include:
·        fifty (20%) of the respondents belonged to families where both parents are educated beyond the secondary school level;
·        one hundred and forty eight (62%) belonged to families where one of the two parents are educated enough to qualify them to work at lower levels in any government establishments;
·        forty two (17%) came from families where neither of the parents are educated.
       This study reviewed, tried to highlight the importance of the environment (literacy level of the child’s parents) to his reading habit. As much as the present researcher partly agrees with it that environment plays a role to the child’s reading, the gap still begging to be filled is the area of students’ reading interest and reading achievement. This current study intends to close the gap.                  
                        Equally, Oyetunde (2002) conducted a study to determine how
secondary school students process print. In the study, cloze tests were administered to 282 SS2 students drawn from five different schools in Jos, Plateau State. Four cloze passages were prepared for the students. Two of the passages were on a readability level of the grade tested and the other two were a readability level below that grade level. These two passages were either on their instructional or their frustration level. Each passage was about 300 words in length. Readers were given the two lower level passages first and later the more difficult passages. The findings of the study showed that:
·        the students who read the passages at both frustration and instructional level were stronger in their ability to use syntactic cues,
·        the readers for whom the passages were on frustration level were limited in their ability to use information from between and within sentences (comprehension was slow),
·        readers failed to observe punctuation marks thereby predicting words which resulted in sentences which were semantically and syntactically unacceptable.
In Oyetunde’s study, how secondary school students process print was highlighted. The study confirmed that indeed there was a reading problem among secondary school students. It neither traced the problem to the students’ reading interest nor established the relationship between the students’ reading interest and their reading comprehension achievement. This current study would add to the efforts made by Oyetunde to establish this relationship.
  A study by Jiboku (2002) examined the relative effectiveness of pre-reading strategy instruction on reading achievement of senior secondary school students. A pre-test-post-test control quasi-experimental group design in which experimental groups were set up, were used. Two secondary schools were used out of the six secondary schools in Abeokuta. School A served as the experimental group while School B was the control group. The findings indicated that the experimental group performed better than the control group after treatment.
This study reviewed is related to the current study in the sense that they are both interested in the reading achievement of the students. The major difference, however, is that while the former was interested in reading achievement generally, the later focuses on reading comprehension achievement. In addition, the study under review studied the relative effectiveness of pre-reading instruction as a way of guiding the students to easy and quick way of understanding a comprehension passage, the later is looking at the relationship between reading interest and reading comprehension achievement of students.  
In a similar study, Oyebola (2004) examined a selection of general reading books for children authored by Nigerians, with the aim of observing the distribution of the main characters in terms of gender. Seven books were selected for the study. The data was analyzed using frequency counts and percentages. The findings indicated that there was gender bias in the distribution of main characters.
This study reviewed concentrated on gender. This is in line with what the present study is also interested in. The reviewed study established that gender bias is displayed by some writers in the presentation of their language use, characterization and illustration in some textbooks as well as general reading materials produced in Nigeria.  However, the gap between the study in review and the present study lies on whether this gender bias as seen in the presentation of books by authors affects the reading interest of students. This makes the current study very vital. This is because part of its purpose is to determine the reading interest of the students based on gender. 

2.3.1   Summary of Reviewed Literature
The related literature review of this study discussed the concept of reading, reading comprehension and voluntary reading; reading interest, poor student’s attitude towards reading/teacher’s incompetence, the place of reading in secondary school curriculum/time table, large classes, environmental/cultural factors and the student’s reading interest, as well as the methods of teaching reading.
Literatures were also reviewed on the relationship between reading and reading comprehension achievement and they were seen to have a kind of relationship. The amount of reading done by student’s seemed to correlate with their reading achievements.
Equally, the review of related literatures examined text-types read by students and it was discovered that students read different types of texts. Gender in relation to the reading interest of students was also reviewed. In the review, it was seen that gender seemed to be affecting the student’s reading interest.
Literature was also reviewed on The Chief Examiner’s Reports on West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). This literature showed that students perform poorly in English yearly. Also, students reading achievement seemed to correlate with success in school and the amount of independent reading they do.
The empirical studies reviewed indicated that the researchers studied students’ approaches to reading, the importance of the environment to the students reading habit, how secondary school students process print and, the relative effectiveness of pre-reading strategy instruction on reading achievement of senior secondary school students and, selection of general reading books for children authored by Nigerians: observing the distribution of the main characters in terms of gender.
The researchers in the literatures reviewed succeeded in studying the students’ guided voluntary reading. Whether the students were really interested in indulging in such voluntary reading they were compelled to engage in by these researchers to carry out their studies was totally ignored. This study will close this gap.
Equally, all the empirical studies reviewed ignored the reading interests of the students which are part of the major elements in reading and reading comprehension achievement. The present study will also close the gap. No study known to the researcher, has been carried out in the area of reading interest of the students to determine if their interests affect their achievements in reading comprehension. It is the importance of this key aspect that has been ignored by researchers that compelled the researcher to embark on this study: Relationship between Reading Interest and Reading Comprehension Achievement of Senior Secondary School Students in Afikpo Education Zone of Ebonyi State. 

CHAPTER THREE
METHODOLOGY
This chapter described the design of the study, area and population to be used for this study. It equally dealt with the sample and sampling techniques to be adopted, the instruments to be used for data collection, validation of the instrument, reliability of the instrument, method of data collection and method of data analysis.

3.1       Design of the Study
            The study adopted a correletional survey design. A correlational survey study, according to Nworgu (2003) is the one that seeks to establish the relationship between two or more variables. The study adopted this design because the researcher hoped to determine the relationship between reading interest and reading comprehension achievement of SSS students in Afikpo Education Zone of Ebonyi State.

3.2       Area of the Study
            The research was carried out in Afikpo Education Zone of Ebonyi State. Ebonyi State is located in the South-East geo-politcal Zone of Nigeria. It is bounded in the East by Cross River State, in the West by Enugu State, in the North by Benue State and in the South by Abia State. Afikpo Education Zone is located at the northern part of Ebonyi State. Five local governments make up Afikpo Education Zone: Afikpo North, Afikpo South, Ohaozara, Ivo and Onicha Local Government Areas. The Zone is made up of urban and rural areas. The urban areas comprise of people who are professionals in different fields such as lawyers, doctors, engineers, lecturers, business men and women, artisans, etc., while the people that make up the rural areas are mainly farmers and few artisans as well as petty traders. The people of the area are very hospitable.

3.3       Population of the Study
            The population of the study comprised 3854 SS2 students in Afikpo Education Zone of Ebonyi State and 80 public schools in the same zone. Five local governments make up Afikpo Education Zone: Afikpo North L.G.A has 22 schools, Afikpo South L.G.A. has 15 schools, Ohaozara L.G.A has 16 schools, Ivo L.G.A has 09 schools and Onicha L.G.A has 18 schools. According to the 2010/2011 statistical data of the Ebonyi State Secondary Education Board Afikpo Zone, the total number of public schools in Afikpo Education Zone is 80 while the total number of SS2 students of all the schools in the zone is 3854.

S/NO
Local Government Area
No of Schools
No of SS2 Students
1
Afikpo North LGA
22
1002
2
Afikpo South
15
781
3
Ohaozara L.G.A
16
779
4
Ivo L.G.A
09
497
5
Onicha L.G.A
18
795

    TOTAL
80
3854
Source: Ebonyi State Secondary Education Board, Afikpo Zone School Enrolment 2010/2011.
3.4       Sample and Sampling Techniques
            The number of schools selected was 20 drawn from the 80 public schools in the five LGAs that make up Afikpo Education Zone, while the number of students was 769 drawn from the 3854 SS2 students in the Zone used for the study as the sample.
            Both the school and the students were selected by systematic sampling technique. To achieve this, a list of the names of the schools was drawn and the sample selected through balloting.

3.5       Instrument for Data Collection
            In this study, the researcher used two instruments: a structured questionnaire tagged “Students’ Reading Interest Inventory and Comprehension Achievement Test Questionnaire” (SRIICATQ) and a Reading Comprehension Achievement Test (RCAT). The questionnaire was divided into two parts: Part A and B. Part A contains the Bio-data, Part B is a checklist of 20 items with four point rating scale while the second instrument (Part C), comprises 20 items with a four point rating scale (A,B,C,D) making a total of 40 items for the study. Part B was presented in form of reading interest inventory which the researcher used to measure the reading interest of the students. Part C was two Reading Comprehension Achievement Tests with ten multiple choice items to accompany each of the comprehension passages, making up the 20 items Part C. The researcher used the reading comprehension tests to measure the reading comprehension achievement of the students (see appendix A). 
3.6       Validation of Instruments
The draft of the two instruments was submitted to three experts for face validation: two in English Language to assess the relevance and appropriateness of their contents and one from Measurement an Evaluation unit of Science Education Department all of Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki. The Reading Comprehension Achievement Test (RCAT) had twenty objective derived test items while the Reading Interest Inventory (RII) had twenty nine statement items. After face validation, no item was dropped, only restructuring took place and the restructured items were accordingly effected in the questionnaire, refer to appendix A.
The two instruments were administered to thirty students who were not part of the main study, in a trial testing. Data collected from the reading interest inventory were used for construct validation in a factor analysis using the principal component matrix. By varimax rotated matrix nine items were dropped from the twenty nine for bad loading, which left behind twenty items for final use. The items dropped were 1, 4, 9, 11, 16, 20, 23, 26 and 28 (see appendix A).

3.7       Reliability of the Instrument.
Data obtained from the RCAT were used to computer its reliability using Kudar-Richardson–20 (Kr-20) which gave a reliability index of ……… that was adjudged reliable having high internal consistency see appendix B. Also, data obtained from the twenty item RII instrument were used to compute its reliability using Cronbach Alpha approach. A reliability coefficient index of 0.71 was obtained showing high internal consistency and hence suitable for the study (See appendix B).

3.8       Method of Data collection
            Copies of the instruments was taken to the schools and administered accordingly. The researcher worked with the English Language teachers who served as research assistants to help in the distribution and collection of the questionnaire. The three parts of the instruments (A,B,C) was distributed at the same time and the students’ responses were collected on the spot to ensure maximum return.

3.9       Method of Data Analysis
            The research questions was answered using the Mean and Standard Deviation while the hypotheses was tested using the Product Moment Correlation Coefficient

CHAPTER FOUR
FINDINGS
This chapter presents the research findings of the topic “Relationship Interest and Reading Comprehension Achievement of Senior Secondary School Students in Afikpo Education Zone of Ebonyi State”. The findings are analyzed in relation to the research questions and research hypotheses formulated to guide the study. The results are presented in tables.
Research Question One
What is the mean of the students reading interests?

Table one indicates that the grand mean score is 3.09 which is above the cut-off point of 2.5. This shows that the respondents have interest in reading.
Research Question Two
What is the mean achievement of the students in reading comprehension passages?

Table 2: Achievement of the students in reading comprehension.

Value
F
X
SD
Interpretation

5
60
7.8
7.8


10
10
44
5.7


15
35
4.6
4.6


20
69
9.0
9.0


25
127
16.5
16.5


30
88
11.4
11.4


35
166
21.6
21.6


40
88
11.4
11.4


45
60
7.8
7.8


50
18
2.3
2.3


55
10
1.3
1.3


60
04
.5
.5

Grand Mean


28.84

Accepted

From table 2 above, the grand mean of 28.84 is obtained which is greater than the cut-off point of 2.5.  This indicates that respondents’ achievement in reading comprehension is not poor.

Research Question Three
What is the mean of the reading interest of the male and female students?

Table three Indicates that the grand mean of 1.39 is obtained for the male respondents while the grand mean score of the females is also 1.39. This is an indication that the reading interests of the male and female students are the same.

Research Question Four
What is the mean of the students’ achievement in comprehension passage based on gender?
Table 4: The achievement of male and female students in reading comprehension

Gender
No of Classes
   _  
   X

SD

SE of Mean

Interpretation
Male
Female
381
381
28.70
28.98
12.04
12.49
0.61
0.63
Accepted
Accepted

Mean difference of Male and Female = .28.
Table four shows that the mean obtained for the male respondents is 28.70 while that of the females is 28.98. Thus, the mean difference of the male and female respondents is just .28. This shows that the achievements of the male and female students in reading comprehension are almost the same.

Research Question Five
What is the relationship between the students mean reading interest and mean reading comprehension achievement?
Table 5: The student’s mean reading interest and mean reading comprehension achievement.
Reading interest score = - .1031
    N = 769
    P = .004

Achievement score = 1.0000
N = 769
P = .
Table 5 indicates that the reading interest score of the respondents is -.1031 while the reading achievement score is 1.0000. The finding indicates that there is no relationship between the students’ reading interest and their achievement in reading comprehension.

Testing of the Null Hypothesis 1
Ho1: There is no significant relationship between the mean students’ reading interest and the mean students’ reading comprehension achievement.
Table 6: The Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation Coefficient of the mean students’ reading interest and the mean students’ reading comprehension achievement
Reading Interest score = -.1031
N = 769
P = 0.004
Achievement score = 1.0000
N = 769
P = .
Table 6 above indicates that the tcal is 36.11 while the tcrit is 1.960. The results show that tcal is greater than tcrit. It therefore follows that the null hypothesis one is rejected implying that there is a significant relationship between mean students reading interest and the mean students reading comprehension achievement.

Testing of Null Hypothesis Two
H02: There is no significant relationship between mean reading interest of male and female students.

Table 7: Summary of the Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation Coefficient of the mean reading interest of male and female students.
Male reading interest = 1.0000
N = 381
P = .
Female Reading Interest = -.0593
N = 381
P = .249
It is observed in table 7 that the Pearson’s Moment Correlation Coefficient is -0.0593. The tcal is -16.45 while the tcrit is 1.960. Since tcal is less than tcrit, the Ho2 is rejected. The implication is that there is a significant relationship between the mean reading interest of male and female students.

Testing Null Hypothesis Three
H03: There is no significant relationship between mean reading comprehension achievement of male and female students.
Table 8: Summary of the Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation Coefficient of the mean reading comprehension achievement of male and female students
Reading Comprehension Achievement of Males = 1.0000
N = 381
P = .
Reading Comprehension of females                     = .8380
N = 381
P = .00

Table 8 above indicates that the Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation Coefficient is 0.8380. The tcal is 42.57 while the tcrit is 1.960. The tcal is greater than the tcrit and is therefore rejected. This therefore implies that there is a significant relationship between the mean score of male and female students.

4.2       Summary of Findings
The data analyzed reveal the following:
1.      That the students have interest in reading,
2.      That the reading comprehension achievements of the students are not poor,
3.      That the reading interests of the male and female students are the same,
4.      That the reading comprehension achievements of the male and female students are almost the same,
5.      That there is a significant relationship between the students’ reading interest and their reading comprehension achievement.

CHAPTER FIVE
DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
            This chapter discusses the findings of the study “Relationship between Reading Interest and Reading Comprehension Achievement of Senior Secondary School Students in Afikpo Education Zone of Ebonyi State”.
            The findings are hereby discussed under the following headings:
1.      that the students have interest in reading,
2.      that the achievement of the students in reading comprehensive is not poor,
3.      that the reading interest of the male and female student are the same,
4.      That the achievement of the male and female students in reading comprehension are almost the same,
5.      That there is a significant relationship between the students’ reading interest and their achievement in reading comprehension.
That the students have interest in reading
            The research question one sought to determine the reading interest of the students. The result of data analysis of table 1 shows that the respondents have interest in reading. This research finding is contrary to the findings of Okon and Ansa (2005) where they noted that the students do not have reading interest. This result equally is a surprising turn-around of popular results got by Oyebola (2004). This researcher found that students do not have interest in reading because they copy the society that has lost reading interest in the quest for materialism.

That the reading comprehension achievement of students is not poor
            Research question two was formulated to investigate the mean achievement of the students in reading comprehension. Based on the evidence from the data in table 2 of chapter four, the result was another surprising discovery: the reading comprehension achievement of the students is not poor. This is quite contrary to the Chief Examiners' Reports on WASSCE past examinations (2011) that students’ reading comprehension achievement is poor on yearly basis. This is also contrary to Aliyu (1995) assertion that the failure rate of students in English language, of which reading comprehension is part of, is placed between 70-75% annually.
            On the other hand, this same finding of research question 2 in table 2 compares positively with that of table 1 that there is a significant relationship between the students reading interest and their reading comprehension achievement. This owes to the fact that in table 1, students are shown to have interest in reading and this has generated a good achievement in reading comprehension in table 2. This is line with Stanovich and Cunningham’s (2003) finding that students, whose interest in reading is a driving force to their voracious reading, become better readers and score higher on achievement tests in all subject areas.
That the reading interest of the male and female students are the same.
            The third research question was formulated to determine the students reading interest based on gender. From the data analysis of table 3, it is established that the reading interest of the male and female students are the same. This finding is contrary to the research findings of Oyebola (2004). In Oyebola’s study, boys tend to science subjects while girls prefer Arts subjects. This current study has proved this researcher wrong by establishing that gender does not affect the reading interests of students. In the same vein, Smith (2002) whose research findings proved that males have contrary reading interest to the females was also faulted by this current study. In Smiths (2002) study, both boys and girls reading interest varied according to their gender but this present study proves that there is no gender difference in the student’s reading interest.
That the achievement of the male and female students is reading comprehension is almost the same
            Research question four sought to find out if there is any gender difference between the achievements of students in reading comprehension. The result obtained from the data analyzed in table 4 indicates that there is no gender difference between the male and female students in reading comprehension achievement. This is contrary to Oyebola’s (2004) findings that the male students achieve better in science subjects while the female students do better in Arts subjects.

That there is a significant relationship between the students’ reading interest and their achievement in reading comprehension
            Research question five was formulated to investigate the relationship between the students’ reading interest and their reading comprehension achievement. This is the crux of this study. The finding indicates that there is a significant relationship between the students’ reading interest and their achievement in reading comprehension. This agrees with the literatures reviewed in this study where Krashen (2005) noted that reading interest results in better reading comprehension achievement. Krashen is not alone in this discovery. Stanvich and Cunningham (2003) confirm that students reading interest positively affects their reading comprehension achievement.

CHAPTER SIX
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
            The educational implications of the findings are discussed in this chapter. It is also in this chapter that the limitations of the study are analyzed. In addition, suggestions for further studies, recommendations, summary and conclusion of the study are presented here.
6.1                   Implication of the Study
            The findings of this study have some educational implications for the curriculum planners, ministry of education, schools, school heads, teachers, students and the general public.
            This study has proved that students have interest in reading contrary to some researcher’s findings and popular belief that students of these days no longer have interest in reading. It is one thing to have interest in reading and it is another to actually have the time to read, the materials to read and the conducive place to do the reading. Governments and parents should equip both the home school and state libraries with current and interesting books, magazines and newspapers to accommodate the various reading interests of students. Adequate time should also be created in the school time table to allow reasonable time for students’ free reading.
            Gender disparity in the students reading interest is in the mind of the people not actually what is obtained. The cultural belief that certain roles are for men and some for women has led to the erroneous assumption that certain subjects ought to be for boys and certain others for girls. This cultural belief, perhaps, may have led to the belief that the male students’ interest in reading is different from the females. This study has clearly established that there are no such differences in the students reading interest their reading comprehension achievement. Thus, the general public should stop enforcing gender differences on the minds of the students and allow them to explore their world through reading, irrespective of their gender.
            This study has also proved that there is a relationship between the students’ reading interest and their achievement in reading comprehension. The implication of this finding is that students who have interest in reading and are always reading would subsequently perform well in reading comprehension achievement tests while those who do not read as a result of no reading interest, would as a result record poor performances in reading comprehension tests. This implies that the students’ reading interest has to be strengthened and sustained for a steady growth in their reading comprehension achievement as well as their overall performance in other subjects, as success in reading comprehension has been seen to correlate with success in other subjects.

6.2       Recommendations
      The findings of this study lead to the following recommendations.
1.      The home, school and state libraries should be properly equipped with current books, newspapers and magazines to strengthen and sustain students’ interest in reading.
2.      Gender differences should not be emphasized to encourage the students to explore their world through reading no matter the subject or discipline.
3.      Reading should be well accommodated in the school timetable by allowing it to be treated separately from the English language.
4.      Reading instruction teachers should be properly trained for it not merely using English language teachers as reading instruction experts.
5.      The right teaching methods should be employed by teachers of reading to boost students’ interest in reading.
6.      Students should be provided with the necessary reading texts for proper participation in reading classes.
7.       Unqualified teachers should not be allowed to handle reading instruction.
8.      In-service training and workshops should be encouraged by the Ministry of Education and schools to update teacher’s qualifications in teaching reading.

6.3       Limitations of the Study
      Some obvious problems were encountered by the researcher in the process of carrying out the study.
1.      The State Secondary Education Board found it difficult to release the statistical data of the WASCE results as well as their copy of the Chief Examiner’s Reports on WASCE.
2.      The West African Examination Council on the other hand, was unwilling to release the results as well as the Chief Examiners’ Reports on WASCE.
Suggestions for Further Studies
      Further studies are suggested in the following areas
1.      Strategies for enhancing studies’ interest in reading.
2.      Causes of students’ poor performances in West African School Certificate Examinations.
3.      Effects of Home Video watching on the students’ achievement in reading comprehension.

6.4       Summary of the Study
            The major target of this study was to establish the relationship between the reading interest and reading comprehension achievement of senior secondary school students in Afikpo Education Zone of Ebonyi State. A comprehensive Literature review was done not only to serve as a guide but also to keep the researcher properly informed on what other scholars have done in the area.
            Five research questions as well as five research hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. The design for the study was a correlation survey design. A total of 769 SS2 students were used to provide data necessary for answering the research questions and testing the hypotheses guiding the study.
            The questionnaire which contained the reading interest inventory and two reading comprehension achievement tests were the main instruments used for the collection of data. Equally, the mean and standard deviation were used to analyze the research questions while the Pearson’s, Product Moment Correlation Coefficient was used to analyze the hypotheses formulated to guide the study. The study revealed among other things, that the students have interest in reading, the achievement of the students in reading comprehension is not poor, the reading interest of male and female students are the same, the achievement of the male and female students in reading comprehension are almost the same and above all, there is a significant relationship between the reading interest and reading comprehension achievement of senior secondary school students in Afikpo Education Zone of Ebonyi State.

6.5       Conclusion
            Based on the discussion of the major findings of the study, it is concluded that:
i.                    There is a significant relationship between the mean students reading interest and the mean students’ reading comprehension achievement.
ii.                 There is a significant relationship between the mean reading interest of the male and female students.
iii.               There is a significant relationship between the mean reading comprehension achievement of the male and female students.

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APPENDIX A
QUESTIONNAIRE

Department of Arts and Social Science,

Dear Respondent,

I am a Postgraduate Student in the Department of Arts/Social Science Education majoring in English Language Teaching.
I am carrying out a dissertation on the topic, "Relationship between Reading Interest and Reading Comprehension Achievement of Senior Secondary School Students in Afikpo Education zone of Ebonyi State." I will require honest answers to the questions attached to this letter. This is purely an intellectual exercise which entails that your answers to these questions ought to be as sincere as possible while I, the questionnaire/interviewer, shall treat your responses with utmost confidentiality.


Thanks for your anticipated cooperation.

Yours faithfully,

SECTION A
BIODATA
Please tick (ü) as appropriate and fill the space where necessary.

School:______________________________________________

Class:_______________________________________________
Age:________________________________________________
Sex:________________________________________________
Hobbies:_____________________________________________
SECTION B
Please tick (√) for the option that best fit your interest.
SA = Strongly Agree, D = Disagree, A= Agree, SD= Strongly Disagree
READING INTEREST INVENTORY
S/N

SA
A
D
SD
1
I like reading always.




2
I prefer computer games to reading.




3
I seldom make use of the public library.




4
My school has a functional library.




5
My parents have a home library.




6
I do not get bored reading beyond half an hour.




7
Reading is boring to me.




8
My parents compel me to read sometimes.




9
I have all the textbooks I need for reading.




10
I prefer photography to reading.




11
I like assignments that compel me to read different books.




12
I usually find it difficult to read any novel to the end no matter how interesting.




13
I do not have a study time table.




14
I cannot read with understanding in the class when it is noisy.




15
I always read silently.




16
I grew up in a print-rich environment.




17
I read less after school.




18
I enjoy reading in my spare time during holidays.




19
I rarely use the school library.




20
I read educational magazines only.




21
I read newspaper when it is available only.




22
I read to pass exams only.




23
I am interested in reading to impress my parents.




24
I prefer the computer to reading.




25
I prefer someone to tell me the story in a novel than reading it.




26
I prefer reading in the school only.




27
I prefer reading alone.




28
I like to read silently.




29
Reading is my hobby.





PART C
READING COMPREHENSION
PASSAGE A
Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions after it.
Malnutrition has been described as a tragedy of great magnitude. WHO declares that it is an accomplice in at least half of the 10.4 million child deaths each year. Malnutrition covers a wide range of illness from undernourishment due to a lack of one of more nutrients such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies to obesity and other diet-related chronic diseases.
            However, Protein-Energy Malnutrition (PEM) is by far the most lethal form of malnutrition. Malnutrition is restricted to children. It casts long shadows in the developing world according to WHO.
            Industrialized countries are not free from the scourge of malnutrition as about 11 million people suffer from it.
            Malnutrition is caused by inadequate intake of nutrient in the body triggered by a combination of factors, an insufficient intake of proteins, calories, vitamins and minerals.
            Illnesses such as diarrhea, measles, malaria and respiratory disease tax the body heavily and cause loss of nutrients. They reduce appetite and food intake thus contributing to malnutrition. Children are at a greater risk of suffering malnutrition. This is because they are in a period of rapid growth that increases the demand for calories and proteins. For similar reasons pregnant and nursing women are easily prone to malnutrition. Frequently, the baby’s problem begins even before birth. If a mother is undernourished or malnourished before and during pregnancy, the baby will have low weight. Then early weaning, poor feeding habits and lack of hygiene can bring on malnutrition.
            Malnutrition wreaks havoc on the body particularly that of a child and various studies have shown that poor growth in a child is associated with impaired mental development and poor scholastic and intellectual performance. A report from the United Nations calls these effects the most serious long term results of malnutrition. For children who survive malnutrition, the aftermath can linger on into adulthood.                
           
QUESTIONS
1. Why is malnutrition described as a tragedy of great magnitude? (a) It is an accomplice (b) it causes illnesses and diseases (c) it leads to mineral deficiencies (d) it leads to large number of child death yearly.
2. What according to the passage are the immediate causes of malnutrition? (a) lethal form of malnutrition (b) inadequate intake of nutrients in the body (c) insufficient intake of proteins, calories, vitamin (d) diseases that tax the body.
3. Why are pregnant women and nursing women easily vulnerable to malnutrition? (a) their babies require more calories and proteins for development (b) children suffer malnutrition the most (c) breast milk needs to develop (d) they may suffer infections.
4. How can a child’s problem begin before birth? (a) Early weaning and poor feeding habit is a problem. (b) The baby will have low weight(c) when a mother is malnourished during pregnancy; (d) when a mother eats little food before and after pregnancy.
5. What according to the passage are the long term results of malnutrition? (a) It wreaks havoc to the child (b) It hinders growth and mental development. (c) It results to illiteracy (d) the child is always sick.
6. ‘…The scourge of malnutrition’ is (a) Apostrophe (b) oxymoron(c) personification D simile.
7.What is the grammatical name of ‘...who survive malnutrition?’ (a) Adverbial phrase (b) adverbial clause (c) adjectival clause (d) adjectival phrase.
8. The function of the grammatical expression in number ‘7’ above is (a) it qualifies the noun ‘ children’ (b) modifies ‘ malnutrition (c) qualifies the verb ‘ can linger’ (d) objective of the verb ‘survive’
For each of the following words, choose from the options given another word or phrase which means the same and can replace it as used in the passage.
9. magnitude (a) attraction   (b) tolerance (c) degree (d) devastation
10. Lethal (a) great (b) unfortunate (c) inexplicable (d) destructive

READING COMPREHENSION
PASSAGE B
Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions on it.
It was a sunny day in the month of May the sun took its rightful position very early, lending credence to the general feeling that Andrew’s birthday was going to be greeted with the blessing of a pleasant weather. The sky looked so bright that Andrew insisted on having an open-air party.    Andrew had gone to great lengths to ensure a hitch-free party; a party which would remain the talk of the town. Although it was not intended to be free for all, a lot had been done to the occasion on the memories of many people long afterwards.
            The bright sun continued to smile. Andrew’s face beamed with pleasure with every passing moment. Very few of his contemporaries have so far succeeded in reaching the top of the ladder. Andrew in particular had been an orphan of storm. His father’s death during his third year in the secondary school and that of his mother two years later were only two of this orphan’s storms. He suffered a physical misfortune when a stockfish machine severed his left middle finger. But Andrew did not despair.
The courage to fail is very cheap. Every fool can afford to fail. But it raises one the herds of cowards and never-do-wells to be up and struggling. The reward of forbearance in the end is resounding success.
            And so it was for Andrew. Ever since he finished his university education, it had been success galore. He had got a good job in one of the country’s insurance companies. His pay was good; his promotion had been steady and his prospects bright. At forty, he had a good car and had already bought a house of his own. The world was at his feet!    

QUESTIONS
1.   At what age was Andrew celebrating his birthday party? (a) Forty years ago (b) After his university (c) when he became rich (d) at forty
2.           What encouraged Andrew to organize an open-air party? (a) The brightness of the sky (b) the sun went down very early (c) doubting Thomases (d) gloomy weather
3.           What two hardships had Andrew gone through in life? (a) He was an orphan and he passed through a storm (b) he was an orphan and he suffered a machine accident (c) his little finger was cut off and he was not discouraged (d) he had no helper and he struggled alone.
4.           Why do you think Andrew was able to succeed brilliantly? (a) encouragement of friends and well wishers (b) he went through a lot in life (c) patience (d) faith in God.
5.           ‘The world was at his feet’, what is implied by the expression? (a) He had confidence (b) people always stood up for him in occasions (c) he could buy anything he wanted (d) he was a success.
6. ‘The bright sun continued to smile’
What figure of speech is this? (a) Personification (b) simile (c) metaphor (d) paradox
7. What grammatical name is given to ‘The courage to fail?’ (a) noun phrase (b) noun clause (c) adverbial clause (d) adjectival phrase.
8. What is the function of the statement in question 7? (a) modifies the verb ‘is’ (b) object of the sentence (c) subject of the sentence (d) a complement.
For each of the following words, find another word or phrase from the options given, which means the same and can replace it as is it used in the passage.
9.   Pleasant (a) rainy  (b) gloomy (c) tremendous (d) friendly
10. Beamed (a) light (b) shined (c) smiled (d) wrinkled.
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