"I didn't know they did books like this!" An inquiry into the literacy practices of young children and their parents using metafictive picturebooks

Farrar, Jennifer (2017) "I didn't know they did books like this!" An inquiry into the literacy practices of young children and their parents using metafictive picturebooks. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3257705


Critical literacy is widely acknowledged as a crucial component of 21st century literacies, with a growing number of researchers providing inspirational examples of what can happen when teachers create critically literate ‘niches’ or spaces in their classrooms (O’Brien 1994; Leland et al 2005; Souto-Manning 2009). Despite this increase in scholarly interest, schooling’s traditional focus on code-breaking and comprehension-type literacy practices (Leland et al 2005) has meant that critical literacy still remains on the margins of many classrooms and curricula, as a buzzword, add-on or extension task that is often reserved for the eldest or most able (Comber 2001). Consequently, researchers have found that a critical stance still does not come “naturally” to readers within schooled contexts (Ryan & Anstey 2003; Scull et al 2013), a situation that cannot be remedied until critical literacy is widely used and valued by readers both inside and outside of schools (Carrington & Luke 1997). Responding to this context and motivated by an absence of research into the critically literate practices of families, a key aim of this study has been to find ways of making space for more critical “ways with words” (Heath 1983) to emerge in places other than classrooms.

Underpinned by a theoretical understanding that a powerful and productive relationship exists between the effects of metafiction and the broadly-agreed aims of critical literacy, this thesis is an account of what happened when a group of eight parents and their eight primary school-aged children encountered the complex, surprising and disruptive demands of metafiction in picturebooks. Discussions about the picturebooks were located across a range of school-based and out-of-school settings and the resulting qualitative, analytical inquiry focused specifically on the literacy resources that dominated these readers’ responses when they engaged with metafiction.

Key findings included the fact that comments with a ‘critical edge’ always emerged in direct response to the provocations of metafiction. More specifically, this study has identified the ability of metafiction to provoke resistance as a reader response; an experience that made it possible for some readers to interrupt and question their ‘natural’ literacy practices. In addition, the effects of metafiction made it possible for readers to develop metaliterate understandings, a term used here to describe a heightened awareness of language in use and of reading as an active, social process of meaning-making. In both cases, the effects of metafiction helped to foreground the often invisible dispositions that give shape to understandings about words - and pictures - and, simultaneously, about the world (Freire 1985).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Metafiction, critical literacy, picturebooks.
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
P Language and Literature > PZ Childrens literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Creativity Culture and Faith
Funder's Name: Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
Supervisor's Name: Phipps, Professor Alison, McAdam, Ms. Julie and Arizpe, Dr. Evelyn
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: J Farrar
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8017
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2017 10:24
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2024 09:33
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/8017

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