Using Literacy to Understand Mexican Boys’ Perspectives of Life

Debby Zambo, Cory Hansen

Abstract


Many nine- and ten-year-old boys find reading interesting but begin to feel insecure about themselves as readers and avoid reading whenever they can. Reading avoidance starts early and for many boys, especially those of color living in poverty, fourth grade seems to be the time when this downward spiral begins. National and state assessment data consistently and currently indicates a gap and stall in the reading achievement of male Latino and English Language Learners living in poverty. However, as Weaver-Hightower (2008) notes, when educators talk about boys and their literacy achievement, they must not only ask which boys are failing but must also ask why? The goal of this study was to answer the why to Weaver-Hightower’s questions for Mexican boys living in Phoenix, Arizona in the early part of 2010. Toward this goal, we established a fourth grade boys’ book club in a neighborhood which presented many challenges for its inhabitants but especially for the Mexican boys who were learning English at their local school. Immigration sweeps and State Bill 1070 permeated their lives and skewed their vision of academic and social success. Regardless, our book club members emerged as tolerant, courageous, and generous individuals who do enjoy reading but too often find themselves reading alone. From these findings implications for educators are provided.


Keywords


literacy;

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