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By Cynthia Lewis

This e-book examines the social codes and practices that form the literary tradition of a mixed fifth/sixth-grade lecture room. It considers how the social and cultural contexts of school room and neighborhood have an effect on 4 lecture room practices regarding literature--read aloud, peer-led literature discussions, teacher-led literature discussions, and self sustaining reading--with a spotlight on how those practices are formed through discourse and rituals in the lecture room and by means of social codes and cultural norms past the study room. This book's emphasis on intermediate scholars is very vital, given the shortage of reviews within the box of interpreting schooling that target readers on the fringe of early life.

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Page xi Preface To understand the ways that the literary culture of a classroom is created within the interwoven social contexts of classroom and community, I conducted a year-long ethnographic study in a fifth-sixth-grade classroom in 1993–1994. This book follows five students as they read and responded to literature during key events with their teacher and classmates. In telling this story, I focus on four classroom practices involving literature: read-aloud, peer-led literature discussions, teacher-led literature discussions, and independent reading.

Given the widespread adoption of literature-based reading programs in elementary classrooms nationwide, this in-depth look at what it means to read and discuss literature in one upper elementary classroom has important implications for classroom practice and future research. Reading education is a high national priority, yet most studies focusing on reading practices or reading interventions are targeted toward early readers. On the other hand, studies related to literature are most often conducted in secondary schools where "English" is typically a code word for literary study.

Hooks (1991), in discussing what she saw as critical fictions, stories that challenge dominant discourses and reading practices, argued that the imagination should not be viewed as "pure, uncorrupted terrain" (p. 55) but as colonized by dominant discourses. Notwithstanding these perspectives on reader response, few studies of literary response in elementary classrooms derive from a critical stance. Although reader response theory takes many forms (Beach, 1993; Tompkins, 1980), including the sociopolitical, the way that it has been practiced in schools—largely in opposition to New Criticism—is to highlight the life of the reader through personal response.

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