Reader Response “The mind fits the world and shapes it as a river fits and shapes its own

banks."---Annie Dillard. The relationship between reader and text is much like that between the river and its banks, each working its effects upon the other (Probst,1988). Reading and making connections are both imperative parts of the process of reading. In the classroom there is much skill and drill that is involved. Students are asked questions that are primarily literal, and without room for interpretation. The Reader Response theory provides a different methodology for encouraging, and has spawned different guidelines for its implementation for classroom teachers. Reader Response Theory shifted the focus from text-based meaning to the meaningmaking process between the reader and the text (Rosenblatt, 1978). Rosenblatt claimed that readers read texts for efferent or aesthetic purposes, which in turn guide their experience with interpreatation of the text. Rosenblatt argued that schooled experiences with literature restrict children from engaging with literature and lead to limited views of reading. Reader response theory also assumes a reader’s response is both individually and socially constructed (Rosenblatt, 1938). “A group of people reading a common text will respond diversely because of feelings, experiences, and knowledge” (Asselin,2000,p.3). Hickman (1979) found that children read to share, implying that transaction occurs in classrooms where there is time and encouragement for interaction about books. Eeds and Wells (1989) documented that when students got together to discuss a book they’d all read. “The essential content of our writing is, after all, our own experience. “Literature is, above all else, a reservoir of conceptions of human possibilities; it is about life” (Probst,1994). "The literary transaction in itself may become a self-liberating process, and the sharing of our responses may be an even greater means of overcoming our limitations of personality and experience." (Rosenblatt, 1984, p.3).

Furthermore, Probst suggests the following principles of instruction help enable this within the classroom. 1. Invite response. Make clear to students that their responses, emotional and intellectual, are valid starting points for discussion and writing. 2. Give ideas time to crystallize. Encourage students to reflect upon their responses, preferably before hearing others. 3. Find points of contact among students. Help them to see the potential for communication among their different points of view. 4. Open up the discussion to the topics of self, text, and others. The literary experience should be an opportunity to learn about all three. 5. Let the discussion build. Students should feel free to change their minds, seeking insight rather than victory. 6. Look back to other texts, other discussions, other experiences. Students should connect the reading with other experiences. 7. Look for the next step. What might they read next? About what might they write? (Probst 1994, p.4). Furthermore, the use of the Reader Response Theory within the classroom provides a meaningful framework for students and teachers to work. Student can use meaning to help construct different views from different texts through their aesthetic responses. There is a set of principles which have been established to help guide teachers within the classroom. These principles provide new ideas that will get students emotionally involved with their learning, and may provide a spark that can ignite a love for reading.

References Asselin, M. (2000). Confronting assumptions: Preservice teachers’ beliefs about reading and literature. Reading Psychology 21, 31-55. Eeds, M., & Wells, D. (1989). Grand conversations: An exploration of meaning construction in literature study groups. Research in the Teaching of English, 27, 4-29. Hickman, J. (1979). Response to literature in a school environment, Grades k-5. Unpublished doctoral disseratations, The Ohio State University, Columbus. Probst, R.E. (1994). Reader-response theory and the english curriculum. The English Journal., 83(3), 37-44. Rosenblatt, L.M. (1978). The reader, the text, the poem: The transactional theory of the literary work Rosenblatt, L.M. (2001). The literacy transaction: evocation and response Theory into Practice. 21(4), 268-277. Rosenblatt, L.M. (1984). The transactional theory of the literary work: Implications for Research. Researching Response to Literature and the Teaching of Literature. 33-53. Rosenblatt, L.M. (1938). Literature as exploration. New York: Appleton Century, Probst, R. E. (1988). ERIC/RCS: Transactional Theory in the Teaching of Literature. Journal of Reading, 31(4), 378-381.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful