Social reading in an adolescent book club : changing the rules of engagement
Isserstedt, Holly B
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This study is an exploration of discourses that govern reading in an adolescent, peer-led book club. Using critical theory to inform my inquiry the purposes of this study are (a) to delineate the discourses of black adolescent women that operate in a social reading setting, (b) examine the importance of cultural capital and hegemony with regard to literary talk and engagement with text, (c) determine if a book club setting is an effective method for creating dialog between a white teacher and black students about issues of cultural difference. The participants were 3 black women in their junior year in a public suburban high school in a large southern city. The data were collected by individual interviews, field observations, tape recorded book club meetings, photographs and student journals. The interview data establishes these students as readers and indicates their current and past engagement with texts. The book club was constructed as a way for students to interact with a text that contains themes parallel to their own cultural and social experiences in an environment in which they could talk about and engage with the text with others of the same or similar culture. The book club discussion demonstrates how adolescent readers use literature as a catalyst for moral exploration and construction of future selves when there is a safe space provided in which to discuss these topics.