Do Poor Readers Feel Angry, Sad, and Unpopular?

Sci Stud Read. 2012;16(4):360-381. doi: 10.1080/10888438.2011.570397.


We investigated whether being poorly skilled in reading contributes to children's self-reported feelings of anger, distractibility, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, and social isolation. Data were analyzed from a longitudinal sub-sample of children (N=2,751) participating in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort. Multi-level logistic regression analyses indicated that poor readers in 3rd grade were more likely to consider themselves as angry, distractible, sad, lonely, and unpopular in 5th grade than those who had not been poor readers in 3rd grade. About 20% of 3rd grade poor readers reported feeling angry and unpopular in 5th grade. Being poorly skilled in mathematics increased children's risk of feeling sad or lonely, but not of feeling angry, distractible, or unpopular. The results provide additional empirical evidence that reading failure contributes to generalized socio-emotional maladjustment in young children.

Keywords: Matthew effect; behavior problems; mathematics difficulties; poor readers; reading difficulties; self-perceptions; socio-emotional maladjustment.