Informing adolescent literacy practices & preferences by using popular, contemporary series books in the young adult genre: A narrative inquiry study

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2013-12

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Abstract

Adolescent literacy is at the forefront of literacy concerns in a nation that sees more and more teenagers either dropout of high school or graduate with low literacy skills. Many students are currently being labeled as struggling and reluctant readers in secondary schools, yet secondary schools continue to mandate traditional literacy curriculums that fail to engage adolescent students as life-long readers. Therefore, this qualitative narrative inquiry explores the use of popular, Young Adult (YA) series novels as vehicles for encouraging struggling and reluctant adolescent readers to engage in positive, life-long literacy practices. Through interviews and long-term engagement with six adolescent students, insights were gleaned regarding their perspectives of and experiences with reading the YA series, The Hunger Games, a popular book in the YA genre, in their English/Language Arts (ELA) classroom. Using the constant comparison method and open coding, data was gathered and triangulated from participant interviews, observations of participants’ work with the text in their ELA class; documents collected from their work with the novel; and the researcher’s reflexive journal. Thematic findings revealed that using series books in the YA genre increased student interest in literacy related tasks, and they independently continued reading subsequent books in the series due to heightened interest. It is believed that the significance of the research findings can likely be transferred to similar secondary ELA classrooms to encourage struggling and reluctant adolescents to enter the world of literacy.

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Keywords

Adolescent literacy, Series books, Young adult genre, Young adult, Popular, The Hunger Games, Narrative inquiry, Contemporary literature

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