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Authentic learning experiences are those in which students engage with texts as well as the behaviors of reading and writing within contexts of real-world use beyond traditional academic use. This study provides quantitative analysis of how students (n=200) engaged with an adult pen pal in a shared literacy experience. Findings indicate that students actively participated with their adult pen pals asking and answering more personal questions than literature-based questions. Data were disaggregated for reading ability and gender. Students who were considered above-grade level readers asked and answered significantly more questions than students considered below grade level in reading. Girls asked significantly more questions, both personal and literature-based, than boys, however there were no significant differences in the number of questions answered. Implications and need for future research are discussed.