Acts of Reading

Teachers, Texts and Childhood

Edited by Morag Styles and Evelyn Arizpe
April 2009
More details
  • Publisher
    Trentham Books
  • Published
    15th April 2009
  • ISBN 9781858564388
  • Language English
  • Pages 256 pp.
  • Size 6.75" x 9.5"

Acts of Reading looks at the history of reading and texts for children from an educational perspective. The texts selected date from the eighteenth century through to the digital age and beyond. They are examined through the eyes of their various audiences--the children, writers, teachers and parents--so as to explore the act of reading itself, whether oral, silent or performative, whether for pleasure or instruction. Also considered are the changing representations of childhood over three centuries and the influence of the visual on the acts of reading. The genres explored include commonplace books, fairy tales, poetry, fiction, fables, picturebooks, Arthurian legends, online messageboards, reading primers and A Very Pretty Story (1744).

The inspiration for this collection is the case study of Jane Johnson’s unique eighteenth-century nursery library, which reveals how children were taught to read in one particular household and sheds light on perceptions of childhood and texts for children at the time. The opening chapters extend our knowledge of this historical archive, and the volume goes on to trace the progression of ideas around reading and childhood past, present and in the future. The nineteenth century is considered through the writings of Romantic poets, while the early twentieth century focuses on classic children’s literature. The last three chapters show how our expectations and ways of teaching are being modified as a result of the changes in the book and its relationship to other media, including multimodality and ways of engaging with readers through digital technologies. Overall, this volume spans the vast range and depth of what reading means and has meant to children and the adults around them, so helping us understand that still mysterious process—the act of reading.

The contributors include: Eve Bearne, Janet Bottoms, Peter Cook, Valerie Coghlan, Teresa Cremin, Judith Graham, Elizabeth Hammill, Shirley Brice Heath, Anouk Lang, Karlijn Navest, Geraldine O’Connor, Francesca Orestano, Margaret Meek Spencer, Vivienne Smith, Laura Tosi, Victor Watson and David Whitley.

"This eclectic collection provides all kinds of interesting insights into the multifaceted experience which the act of reading represents for children, and the complex, but rewarding challenges faced by the adults who accompany their progress as increasingly competent, autonomous and appreciative readers."

- , International Research Society for Children's Literature

ACTS OF READING Introduction—Acts of Reading: From Nursery Libraries to Digital Screens—Morag Styles and Evelyn Arizpe; 1) Old and New Protocols of Reading—Margaret Meek Spencer; JANE JOHNSON AND HER WORLD 2) Illuminating Shadows: Jane Johnson’s Commonplace Book—Victor Watson; 3) Bringing ‘Wisdom into the Hearts of Young Persons’: Aesop, Watts and Newbery as sources for Jane Johnson’s Fables and Maxims—Evelyn Arizpe and Morag Styles; 4) The Deeper Game: Intuition, Imagination and Embodiment—Shirley Brice Heath; READING THE PAST: PEDAGOGIES, TEXTS AND TEACHERS 6) Reading Lessons for ‘Baby Grammarians’: Lady Ellenor Fenn and the Teaching of English Grammar—Karlijn Navest; 7) The Kildare Place Society: An Influential Force in 19th Century Irish Education—Valerie Coghlan and Geraldine O’Connor; 8) The Child as Common Reader: The ‘True Complexity of Reading’ and the Progress from Hell to Paradise—Francesca Orestano; READING IMAGINATION AND CHILDHOOD 9) Hiding Places of Power: The child as a Site of Resistance in William Wordsworth’s Poetry—David Whitley; 10) Cultivating the Imagination: Coleridge and his Circle on Literature for Children—Janet Bottoms; 11) The Olympians: Neglect and Imagination in Late Victorian and Edwardian Literature—Peter Cook; READING FICTIONS 12) Arthur de Caldicott and the New Literacy—Vivienne Smith; 13) What Do Fairy Tales Teach? Updating and Challenging the didactic Canon—Laura Tosi; 14) Changing Frames: From theatre on the Page to Galleries as a Stage—Elizabeth Hammill; READING THE FUTURE 15) Reading in a Digital Age: Using new Technologies to Navigate Texts Together—Anouk Lang; 16) Teachers as Readers in the 21st Century—Teresa Cremin, Eve Bearne, Marilyn Mottram and Prue Goodwin; 17) And What Do You Think Happened Next?—Eve Bearne; List of Contributors; Index.

Morag Styles

Morag Styles is Reader in Children’s Literature at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.

Evelyn Arizpe

Evelyn Arizpe is Lecturer in Children’s Literature, Faculty of Education, University of Glasgow.