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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Preadolescent boys' paths to reading : balancing identity and agency Brisson, Geneviève


The major purpose of this qualitative study was to map particular preadolescent boys' paths to reading by taking a look at various elements that might have influenced their path to reading. Data were collected using five individual interviews with boys, ages 11 to 13 years old, and a group interview with all five of them. Questions for both interviews were designed to gather data in relation to my research sub-questions, which came from a preliminary review of the literature. This study explored how various factors —hobbies (e.g. video games, sports) and personal interests (e.g. swords, reptiles, cars), adults as reading mentors, school, perceptions of reading and readers, agency, peers and popular culture — influence five boys' reading paths. Analysis of this data provided the following findings. Hobbies and favourite activities seemed not to influence four of the boys when they chose books, but they were a major influence for the fifth boy. The five boys mentioned series that had an impact both on their attitude towards reading and on their choice of texts. School's influence, however, appeared to be "neutral", but two boys explained that literature circles were an interesting practice because they allowed for discussion with peers. This school literacy activity contributed to these boys' positive attitudes toward reading. Peer recommendations from other readers also influenced the choice of books made by the interviewees. The five pre-adolescent boys appeared to be resisting some cultural and social norms of their peer groups and of masculine discourses: they were reading despite the fact that this activity was not one of the most popular activities among their friends. However, if they did not view reading as a feminine activity, they still perceived certain books as "girls' books", books that no boys would want to read. Finally, none of these elements has been found to have a predominant influence on all the boys: the participants spoke about more than one element that had an influence on their choices of texts as well as on their attitudes towards reading.

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