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Students' book choices and discussions during independent reading were studied in a combined fifth/sixth grade classroom. The meanings students and the teacher gave to the practice of independent, free-choice reading were studied, and the influences that shaped students' choices of books were explored. Independent reading is actually social in very complicated ways, and free choice, is terms of students choosing what they want to read, is actually not free of the need to establish particular social identities in relation to local and institutional discourses. Tensions emerged as children brought into the classroom cultural symbols and materials of the sort that teachers, and adults in general, do not feel comfortable in legitimating, such as violence, sex, and an acceptance of rigid gender roles. One of the most important roles a teacher can serve when he or she participates in literature discussions is to mediate the literature in critical ways to help students traverse popular culture and the official and unofficial discourses of the classroom. (Contains 36 references.) (SLD)

Descriptors: Elementary School Students, Ideology, Independent Reading, Intermediate Grades, Reading Interests, Reading Material Selection, Sex Differences, Social Influences

Autor: Lewis, Cynthia


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