n South African Journal of Education - Building school-based reading practices

Volume 25, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-0100
  • E-ISSN: 2076-3433



Traditionally, teachers try to promote reading by bringing texts on topics they feel are interesting to learners into the classroom, such as stories about young people, biographies of pop-stars, or books about sports or sporting personalities. We argue that such attempts by teachers to simulate middle class home based reading practices in working class schools are not effective in building a reading culture among young learners. The mismatch between learners' home and school cultures inhibits this. Our study of working class children's literate actions and interactions in a school context indicated that reading practices are more likely to be supported through school-based activities. This involves a re-conceptualisation of a reading culture developing out of academic subjects and their related activities, rather than as developing out of home-based activities. Our research indicated that, for working class children, reading occurs more "naturally" in the context of the academic subjects which they study at school, rather than in areas traditionally associated with learners' out-of-school interests. As reading is associated with academic success more generally, we propose that integrating supplementary reading activities into mainstream academic subjects, particularly where mainstream subjects are interesting to learners, is effective in the promotion of reading at school.

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