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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Boys and girls in the reading club : conversations about gender and reading in an urban elementary school Moffatt, Lyndsay Elizabeth

Abstract

Recent research has revealed a gender gap in reading attitudes and achievement. Broadly speaking, when compared with girls, boys display a more negative attitude towards reading and perform less well on measures of reading achievement. Yet, why boys appear to have such difficulties with reading and why girls appear to have fewer difficulties with it has yet to be fully explored. This thesis examines the talk of a group of grade five and six students at a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, mixed socio-economic urban elementary school, concerning their ideas of gender normative behaviour, gendered reading practices and the consequences of non-normative gender performances or gender crossing behaviour. Using Critical Socio-Cultural theories of literacy and learning and Feminist Post-Structuralist theories of gender and identity, this year long ethnographic study reveals that students' investments in their gender identities may help to create and maintain the gender gap in reading attitudes and achievement. In particular, boys' investment in maintaining a heteronormative masculine identity may interfere with their participation in school based print literacy. The implications of these findings for bridging the gender reading gap are discussed. In addition, this thesis raises questions about the simplicity of current conceptions of the gender reading gap that depict boys as victims and girls as victors in school. This thesis adds to research that calls for a more complex understanding of issues of gender, "race" and class in .contemporary classrooms.

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