“Opportunity to Read”: Student Voice as a Reading Engagement Enabler
In this chapter, we examine the opportunity to read in schools that serve mostly disadvantaged students from low socioeconomic status (SES) families. Beginning with a discussion on the literature and research on reading motivation and engagement, we argue that the conception of effective readers as motivated and strategic needs attention in its applicability among reluctant readers coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. Often, disadvantaged readers exhibit a high level of reluctance to read in school alongside a persistent pattern of underachievement. In response, some teachers react by dumbing down the reading curriculum, focusing on basic skills training using controlling teaching practices. Such practices will unintentionally limit students’ opportunities to engage in meaningful reading and hamper their reading enjoyment. We used data drawn from a case study based on repeated observations and interviews to describe how students’ voices were utilized to drive the development of new reading practices that promoted reading for Year 4 students in a low SES school in Queensland, Australia. This case study illustrates how seeking, honoring, and acting on students’ voices enable disadvantaged students to re-engage with reading for enjoyment.
KeywordsReading motivation Reading engagement Student voice Reading achievement gap Disadvantaged students
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