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During the spring of 2004, we conducted research exploring the emotions of struggling readers. Specifically we were interested in finding out how school contexts, curriculum, and relationships influence students' experiences of struggle. Students in this study were 14 first, second, and third graders identified for reading intervention at their school. As we analyzed data sources, including field notes, interviews with students and teachers, we concluded that the literacy activities that engaged these students cognitively, motivationally, and emotionally were the book discussions that took place in their reading classroom. However, book discussions were not a part of reading instruction in their regular classrooms, which contributed to their experiences of struggle. In this article we share the stories of several young readers in order to articulate our developing understandings. Likewise we discuss how these understandings concur with and enhance the growing body of evidence that book talk rouses minds and hearts to life.

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