Living Reading: Exploring the Lives of Reading Teachers

Living Reading: Exploring the Lives of Reading Teachers

Living Reading: Exploring the Lives of Reading Teachers

Living Reading: Exploring the Lives of Reading Teachers


A qualitative research study of the ways teachers form and enact notions of literacy through participation in a subject-area association that places reading at the heart of its mission. Explores the gendered and historical roots of the discipline of reading and reading instruction in the US, and demonstrates how the professional development opportunities offered by such organizations support and constrain educational reform initiatives. Davidson teaches at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Massachusetts- Lowell. Lacks a subject index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


Amelia Bedelia is preparing to read. The woman playing the storybook character is dressed up in a maid's black dress and a crazy black hat with yellow flowers, like the character wears in the picture books. An older woman with thickly curled white hair announces the reader.

“Hello!” says Amelia Bedelia, stepping forward to the microphone. “How could you tell I was Amelia Bedelia?” she asks the children sitting in a circle around her, and then she begins talking about her hat. The microphone squeaks and squawks, making terrible sounds as she talks, but the children sitting near her seem to be able to hear.

A little boy raises his hand “I wanna win a book, ” he tells her. She asks the children to name the Amelia Bedelia books they know and then says, “Teach Us Amelia is the one I'm going to read today. I'm so glad you're familiar with the stories by Peggy Parrish with me, Amelia Bedelia, as the main character.”

The event described here is drawn from an observation at a mall of a “Read-In” sponsored by a local reading council, which I will call the Boxwood Council, an affiliate of the Illinois Reading Council (IRC), a group dedicated to promoting reading within its community. Amelia Bedelia's performance took place on a snowy Sunday afternoon in a Midwestern shopping mall. The stage is a carpeted pit surrounded by wooden benches in the center of the two-story mall. Children sit on the floor around Amelia Bedelia. Parents and other mall goers sit on the benches, stand around the edges, or peer over from the second-floor balcony. Many shoppers pass by without a second glance at Amelia Bedelia or the many tables of reading displays, but many others stop to look and chat with the teachers and volunteers, admiring children's artwork and flipping through the “shape” and “theme” books that children created in response to literature, social studies projects, or science inquiry. Supporters of local adult literacy projects pass out peppermint candies attached to flyers with . . .

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