The Complex World of Adolescent Literacy : Myths, Motivations, and Mysteries

From Section:
Instruction in Teacher Training
Published:
Apr. 20, 2008
Spring 2008

Source: Harvard Educational Review, Spring 2008

Author’s Website: Elizabeth Birr Moje

Publisher: Harvard University

 

In this article, Elizabeth Birr Moje, Melanie Overby, Nicole Tysvaer, and Karen Morris challenge some of the prevailing myths about adolescents and their choices related to reading. The reading practices of youth from one urban community are examined using mixed methods in an effort to define what, how often, and why adolescents choose to read. By focusing on what features of texts youth find motivating, the authors find that reading and writing frequently occur in a range of literacy contexts outside school.

However, only reading novels on a regular basis outside of school is shown to have a positive relationship to academic achievement as measured by school grades. This article describes how adolescents read texts that are embedded in social networks, allowing them to build social capital. Conclusions are framed in terms of the mysteries that remain — namely, how to build on what motivates adolescents’ literacy practices in order to both promote the building of their social selves and improve their academic outcomes.


Updated: Oct. 29, 2019
Keywords:
Adolescent literacy | Motivation | Myths | Reading