Out-of-School Reading and Literature Discussion: An Exploration of Adolescents’ Participation in Digital Book Clubs

Jamie Colwell, Lindsay Woodward, Amy Hutchison


This research used an inductive qualitative method to examine how adolescents participate in online literature discussion, with limited guidance from adults, through a summer reading program. Using a New Literacy framework, the authors considered that literacy is social and collaborative and that adolescents often engage in such literacy practices on the Internet outside of school. This study considered these literacy practices to examine an eight-week voluntary online summer reading program at a public library and how such a program might inform such activities in school settings to promote more authentic opportunities for literacy engagement. In this program, twelve adolescents (ages 13-17) read print-based young adult novels and responded to their reading in threaded discussion boards, called book clubs, in a closed, online social network.  Results indicated two overlapping themes related to students’ formality in writing to promote shared learning and personalizing digital discussions to make connections. Researchers found adolescents spontaneously adopted online discussion techniques that hybridized formal discussion practices with more personal practices to encourage emotive transaction with text. These results raised implications for integrating such activities in classroom settings to support all learners and to promote academic literacies.



online discussion, literature discussion, adolescents, summer reading

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v22i2.1222