When I attended a class in Swedish as a second language, at Karlstads University 2011, I learned about voice and coherence in text. This made me curious about our textbooks in school. In what way do textbooks differ from coherent texts? What do students prefer? Are easy to read texts always better?
To make a text easy to read, you must take away some and you have to add some. What to take away and what to add, is one of the things that I intended to find out during my study.
Due to Björn Meander (Strömqvist [red], 1995 s 15), in Sweden, people started to get interested in our textbooks in the middle and the end of the nineteenth century. There had been some critical voices raised against the Swedish Läsebok för folkskolan, especially from Ellen Key in 1898. Her critique was mainly directed towards the simple language in the book and the lack of original texts (Strömqvist (red), 1995 s 15). This was one of the reasons that led to the release of two of Sweden’s most famous schoolbooks, Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige by Selma Lagerlöf and Svenskarna och deras hövdingar by Heidenstam. During the twentieth century the interest continued regarding the textbooks in school.
In this study I have barely scratched the surface. I intended to find out whether students found the most joy in easy-to-read-texts, or if they thought the original texts were to prefer. And depending on the answer, why is that?
A lot of text for example facts, describing text and details, are in fact often taken out of a text that is easy to read. By this I mean that students miss out of a great deal of exciting adventures that a book (in its original version) can provide! But on the other hand, when it comes to make a choice between reading a book that is manipulated or not reading it at all, the choice seems an easy one.
Keywords: Easy-to-read, originaltext, coherence, voice, causality, outside knowledge, connections, engagement.