Teenagers Reading

research for my PhD thesis

Real reading vs Literary reading

with one comment

I’ve just read Adolescents talk about reading: exploring resistance to and engagement with text by Anne Reeves (International Reading Association, 2004). I found it engaging and useful. Reeves describes her PhD research into teenagers’ views on reading, focusing on five case studies of high school students and their resistance to school reading. Reeves is a former teacher and her book is aimed at teachers, but librarians working with teenagers will benefit from her work.

Before my last post I’d read the following quote, but I couldn’t find it on the weekend (among all those post-it notes), but I just found it. Reeves is discussing popular fiction, particularly the romance fiction that high school student Rosa read voraciously. As I said in my post Real reading, some people think the whole format of graphic novels is inferior to ordinary text books in the same way that popular (genre) fiction is disparaged as not “literary.” Reeves says,

When the reading an adolescent loves is outside the realm of respectable literature, teachers are taught that their job is to move students away from their chosen genres and into the fold of “something better” as quickly as possible. Teachers are given the responsibility for making the young person a more mature reader and thinker who can look upon popular fiction critically and understand why it is “inferior.” (p. 155)

Reeves doesn’t agree with this view, and discusses how teachers can incorporate popular and more literary works into the curriculum to ensure teenagers aren’t alienated by books they don’t enjoy or understand and thus ensure reading does not become a chore to be avoided. This idea can be transferred to teacher librarians, part of whose job is to ensure young people encounter a variety of genres and formats in their reading, without making judgments on supposed “quality.”


Reeves, A. R. (2004) Adolescents talk about reading: exploring resistance to and engagement with text. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.


Written by ClareSnow

18 March 2008 at 12:30 pm

One Response

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  1. Nice Blog. I like the layout you used. Did you make that yourself?

    – Randy Nichols.

    Randy Nichols

    18 March 2008 at 1:21 pm

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