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ERIC Number: EJ782220
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004-May
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-1081-3004
"A Puzzle to the Rest of Us": Who Is a "Reader" Anyway?
Williams, Bronwyn T.
Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, v47 n8 p687-689 May 2004
Beyond decoding words and sentences, everyone thinks of a reader as a person who makes particular kinds of intertextual connections, who asks particular kinds of questions of a text, who reads at a particular intellectual distance from the text, who talks about more than the text's meaning and analyzes its nature. The difference in how teachers construct the identity of a reader and how students do can create conflicts in the classroom. Many teachers, from middle school through university, stop talking about the nature of reading--of the different ways people read and the different identities they perform as they engage in various reading activities. As a result, the words "reading" and "reader" go unexplored in any explicit, constructive way in the classroom. Thus, the author believes that it is important that teachers talk more with their students about what kind of qualities they expect from the people they identify as readers. For one thing, teachers need to explore with students the multiple and varied nature of reading. They need to remind them that they are constantly being readers as they go about their lives, and they need to talk with them about all the ways they engage in reading and for what purposes. To explore the conflicts of how students and teachers identify readers is not a radical idea or a miracle pedagogy. In fact it may seem fairly obvious to want to point out to students that there are multiple ways not only to read but also to be readers. Yet what may seem obvious is often the basis for significant misunderstandings. If teachers can make clearer to students, as well as to themselves, what they mean when they ask them to assume the identities of readers, they have taken the first step in demystifying what can for many students be a frustrating, intimidating, and unacknowledged obstacle in the classroom.
International Reading Association. 800 Barksdale Road, P.O. Box 8139, Newark, DE 19714-8139. Tel: 800-336-7323; Fax: 302-731-1057; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A