Aliteracy Vs. Illiteracy


Kylene Beers, as part of a research study, observed two 7th grade classrooms for one year. Through discussions regarding attitudes and habits as readers, she developed a typology of a reader.

“It was easy to identify readers at both ends of the spectrum; they readily fit the academic and social descriptions others have provided. It was more difficult to classify the aliterate readers. In fact, I found grouping them under one term – aliterate – was inaccurate because because they gave different reasons for not reading. Understanding these reasons eventually led me to three distinct types of aliterate readers: Dormant, Uncommitted, and Unmotivated” (Beers, 1996, p. 31).


I have been pondering this information for awhile. It makes me wonder who the students are in remedial classes. Are they illiterate or aliterate? How would we know or are we focuses exclusively on test scores? Are instructional strategies the same for each type of reader? Are there a disproportionate number of boys in the aliterate category? How can we help aliterate students see beyond the function to the beauty of reading?

Beers, G. K. (1996). No time, no interest, no way: Three voices of aliteracy. School Library Journal, 42(2), pp.30-33.


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