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Language Arts, Vol. 88, No. 3, January 2011

Cover Art for Language Arts, Vol. 88, No. 3, January 2011

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: The Rights of the Reader

  • Call for Manuscripts

  • Thoughts from the Editors: What Rights Do We Owe Children?

  • “Reading between the Pictures”: Immigrant Students’; Interpretations of The Arrival

    Carmen M. Marti´nez-Rolda´n and Sarah Newcomer

    Abstract: In this article, the authors share findings from a study in which immigrant students responded to the wordless text The Arrival in small-group, bilingual literature discussions. The interpretive processes of two of the children with different ethnic backgrounds, levels of English proficiency, and styles of response are highlighted as exemplary and contrastive case studies. Additionally, the social nature of the students’ interpretive work is illustrated by showing how the students drew upon their experiences of immigration, engaged in inquiry, and incorporated each others’ strategies as they co-constructed their responses and their own version of The Arrival. In a time when students’ language and reading abilities are defined by test scores, the authors propose that the use of wordless books provide an alternative perspective. Children’s ability to read between the pictures and make meaning of visual texts reflects a sophisticated interpretive activity that can offer teachers insight into what their immigrant students can do as readers. Access to high-quality wordless texts that address themes to which they can relate offers immigrant children, who are often also English language learners, the opportunity to enjoy the right to read and talk about books.

    Keywords: Language, Literacy, Literature, Elementary

  • “Search for the answers” or “Talk about the story”?: School-based Literacy Participation Structures

    Diane Santori

    Abstract: This paper explores how five third-graders constructed meaning in three school-based literacy participation structures, also examining teachers’ invitations and the space they make for students’ talk and students’ comprehension practices.  High-stakes assessments and mandated reading curriculum influence how comprehension is framed and how students are invited to engage in discussions about text. Students’ opportunities to exercise textual agency are often limited. However, when students had greater control over the discussion and the authority to evaluate the written text and their peers’ comments for accuracy or plausibility, their comprehension was strengthened. Students actively constructed meaning as they considered multiple, possible interpretations, while also taking into account their own personal experiences and other valuable social and semiotic resources.

    Keywords: Literacy, Pedagogy, Elementary

  • Let’s Start Leveling about Leveling

    Kath Glasswell and Michael Ford

    Abstract: Abstract for this article is currently not available.

    Keywords: Literacy, Pedagogy, Elementary

  • Research Directions: Missing Mirrors, Missing Windows: Children’s Literature Textbooks and LGBT Topics

    Laura B.Smolkin and Craig A. Young

    Abstract: Concerns for the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LBGT) youth and the children of families who so self-identify suggest that teachers may need additional support in fostering classrooms that welcome all students. The field of children’s literature has long-standing interests in multiple cultures and the literature representing that diversity; this suggests that children’s literature textbooks may be an important source for broadening teachers’ instructional base. A content analysis of the six, top-selling children’s literature textbooks reviewed tables of contents and indices for specific descriptors, locating textbook sections containing LGBT-related literature; these, in turn, were examined for content, placement, and manner of presentation. Three of the six textbooks included LGBT orientation in considerations of multicultural literature; a fourth did not but presented a strong and unique section on same-sex families as part of diversity. Five of the six included LGBT books in chapters on realistic fiction; the sixth did not address LGBT orientations in any fashion. This paper concludes with suggestions for textbook authors, teacher educators, and teachers regarding enhanced inclusion of LGBT literature and topics.

    Keywords: Diversity, Literacy, Pedagogy

  • Focus on Policy: The Right to Be a Fan

    Peter Gutie´rrez

    Abstract: Reading experts have consistently cited the importance of independent reading, reading for pleasure, and fostering “a love of reading.” Unfortunately, fanning the fire of fan readership is not so easy in the service of our clear-cut and standards-aligned curricula, except perhaps in small, carefully channeled doses. Moreover, the impetus for such a project is innately contradictory in terms of the promises that fandom makes to youth. As educators, we want students to be fans, but we want to restrict it to the palette of choices that we assemble for them. Such an impasse helps explain why there currently exists an uneasy truce, a kind of intellectual demilitarized zone, between the worlds of fandom and education, with the latter extremely suspect of the former. This article addresses fandom as the best chance of uniting in-school and outside-of-school literacies, not to mention helping students develop critical thinking skills and a host of media and “new literacies”—that is, empowering them to become “readers” in the broadest, most meaningful sense of the word.

    Keywords: Literacy, Technology, Media, School/Community

  • Profiles and Perspectives: Phillip Hoose: Writing for a Better World

    Barbara A. Ward and Terrell A. Young

    Abstract: This article features a profile of award-winning author, Phillip Hoose. Though Hoose wears many hats in his day-to-day world, thoughts of social justice are never far from his mind and heart. It might seem that books about basketball (i.e., Hoosiers, 1986), an early civil rights pioneer, teen activists, and a mysterious bird have little in common, but underneath each of those books lies the author’s determination to bring attention to little-known stories. Obviously, he relishes finding and telling the complicated, often multifaceted stories that rarely appear in today’s history texts. Claudette Colvin: Twice toward Justice (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009) nabbed the National Book Award, was named an Honor Book for the Newbery, Sibert, and Jane Addams Awards, and made just about every best-of list for books published in 2009. Curious about how Hoose manages to take events that are decades old and breathe life into them, the authors of this article reread all of his books and then interviewed Hoose for this profile.

    Keywords: Literature, Writing

  • Professional Book Reviews: The Rights of Readers in Our Schools

    Dora M. Fabelo, Krish Stella, Natascha Barreto-Romero, Nancy Valdez-Gainer

    Abstract: Dora M. Fabelo, Krish Stella, Natascha Barreto-Romero, Nancy Valdez-GainerFour professionals who represent different capacities in one urban elementary school—principal, reading specialist, librarian, and classroom teacher—each select one book to review relating to the theme of “rights of readers.” The first book reviewed, A Declaration of Reader’s Rights: Renewing Our Commitment to Students, written by Bass, Dasinger, Elish-Piper, Matthews, and Risko, provides an overview of what is meant by “rights of readers” and what can be done in schools to address this issue. Next, Burn This Book: PEN Writers Speak Out on the Power of the Word, edited by Toni Morrison, contains diverse chapters relating how censorship infringes on the rights of readers. DIY Media: Creating, Sharing, and Learning with New Technologies, edited by Knobel and Lankshear, examines do-it-yourself media as social literacy practice, thus calling for the rights of readers to engage with expanded definitions of what should count as text. Finally, Teaching for Joy and Justice: Re-Imagining the Language Arts Classroom, written by Linda Christensen, highlights the possibilities that arise when students are given the right to engage with reading and writing that reflects their diverse lives, cultures, and languages, affording opportunities to read and write social justice texts.

    Keywords: Literacy, Pedagogy, Writing

  • Children’s Literature Reviews: The Right to Not Defend our Tastes

    Mary Ann Cappiello, Erika Thulin Dawes, Grace Enriquez, and Julie Roach

    Abstract: Daniel Pennac urges us to let children read what they choose to read, suspending adult evaluations of quality and appropriateness. There are time-honored topics that children and teens return to again and again, year after year, including: subject matter that may frighten or threaten some grown-ups; goofy, gross, or slapstick humor; series fiction or nonfiction that prolongs a personal connection to characters or plot devices or information; multimedia connections or tie-ins; and perpetually popular interests, from trucks to mysteries to vampires. In addition, there are the 21st-century expectations children have for books with high visual interest and authentic representations of the experience of the modern day child in our diverse world. The books reviewed in this article, were selected because, based on our experiences working with children and their teachers, the authors believe they have genuine “kid appeal.”

  • In Closing . . . A Reader's Declaration

    Robin W. Holland

    Abstract: Robin Holland embraces the breadth, the depth, and the variety of reading—its purposes, its joys, its status as a right both to read and not to read. Her declaration makes it clear that reading is personal and subject to our whims and interests, our purposes and our guilty pleasures. Reading belongs to us . . . and we have rights.

* Journal articles are provided in PDF format and can be opened using the free Adobe® Reader® program or a comparable viewer. Click here to download and install the most recent version of Adobe Reader.

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