Reading Students' Lives: Literacy Learning across Time, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Reading Students' Lives

Literacy Learning across Time, 1st Edition

By Catherine Compton-Lilly


140 pages | 13 B/W Illus.

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Reading Students’ Lives documents literacy practices across time as children move through school, with a focus on issues of schooling, identity construction, and how students and their parents make sense of students’ lives across time. The final book in a series of four that track a group of low-income African American students and their parents across a decade, it follows the same children into high school, bringing to the forefront issues and insights that are invisible in shorter-term projects. This is a free-standing volume that breaks new ground both theoretically and methodologically and has important implications for children, schools, and educational research. Its significant contributions include the unique longitudinal nature of the study, the lens it casts on family literacy practices during high school years, the close and situated look at the experiences of children from communities that have been historically underserved by schools, and the factors that alltoooften cause many of these children to move further and further away from school, eventually dropping out or failing to graduate.

Table of Contents


Foreword: Nick Hitchon

Chapter 1: Introducing Time

Time in Educational Research

Time in Educational Practice

Considering Trajectories

Considering Space

Chapter 2: Marvin’s Story Through Three Temporal Lenses

Lemke’s Timescales: Making Meaning Across Time

Bakhtin’s Chronotope: Institutional Expectations and Time

Bourdieu’s Habitus: Embodied Dispositions across Time


Chapter 3: David, Angela, & Bradford: Discourses over Time

The Language that People Use to Situate Themselves within Time

The Pace of Schooling and Temporal Language

Repeated Stories over Time


Chapter 4: Alicia and her Family across Time

Making Meaning across Time

Alicia and her Family

Revisiting Alicia


Chapter 5: Peter Becomes a Writer: The Development of Writing Habitus

Habitus and Field

Researching Habitus

Introducing Peter

Developing Writing Habitus


Chapter 6: Literate Trajectory as Chronotope: The Case of Jermaine

A Theoretical Framework for Trajectory: Bakhtin’s Chronotope

Introducing Jermaine

The Affordances of Chronotope for Making Sense of Jermaine’s Literate Trajectory


Chapter 7: Christy and I: Trajectories across Time

Layering Christy


Chapter 8: Temporal Conclusions

Afterword: Barbara Comber

Appendix A: A Longitudinal Methodology

Appendix B: Case Study Families

About the Author

Catherine Compton-Lilly is Professor of Literacy Education, University of Wisconsin–Madison, USA.

About the Series

Expanding Literacies in Education

The Expanding Literacies in Education Series features books that highlight the changing landscape and explore new directions and theoretical tools in literacy studies as it is transforming education—including material, embodied, affective, and global emphases; digital and virtual worlds; and transcultural and cosmopolitan spaces. Some books in the series locate emerging literacies in practices that extend or trouble their historical uses and functions. Others cross disciplinary borders, bringing new epistemologies to bear on evolving practices that question the very foundations of literacy scholarship. Polemical and forward-looking, encompassing public and vernacular pedagogies as well as formal education, these books engage researchers, graduate students, and teacher educators with new and emerging theoretical approaches to literacy practices in all of their complexities, challenges, and possibilities.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Research