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Reading Within Families: Taking a Historical Perspective

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This article draws on a study which was designed to extend understanding of habitual and committed adolescent readers. The study brought together four theoretical perspectives – the social, cultural, spatial and historical – as a way of re-imagining the field of reading. The historical perspective is the one foregrounded here, offering views of reading as a long-term, intergenerational process, in this instance constructed through setting adults’ comments about reading alongside those of their children or grandchildren. Analysis of data from two of the research methods employed in the study – semi-structured small-group interviews and interviews conducted by the students themselves with a parent or grandparent – suggests that there is a strong argument to be made for attending more closely to adolescent readers from a historical perspective, as well as from social, cultural and spatial perspectives, in order to understand better some of their subtle characteristics as they shift over time rather than as they appear when viewed merely in the here-and-now.
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Keywords: adolescent readers; historical perspective; history of reading; parental reading

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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