“Club Reports” Queered Considerations of Children’s Understandings of Families, Relationships,Social Practices, and Literature in an Afterschool Reading Club

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Graduate School of Education Dissertations
Epistemic justice
Family diversity
First grade
Queer theory
Reading clubs
Liberal Studies
Pre-Elementary, Early Childhood, Kindergarten Teacher Education
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This qualitative inquiry uses queer theory and an epistemic justice framework to analyze interactions in a reading club for first graders. The title “Club Reports” is a play on words referring both to this dissertation and to a bound book of the children’s work. The literary event of a weekly reading club is a lens to consider literacy as a social practice. I ask: what happens when a diverse group of children participate in an afterschool reading club that focuses on representations of families? Data was gathered using ethnographic methods including audio and video recordings, participant interviews, artifact collection, parent interviews, and researcher documentation. Through the analytic framework, I consider if and how our meetings queered normative understandings of gender, family, relationships, literacy practices, childhood, and child cultures. Findings suggest that current knowledge resources about families, children, and social organization more broadly situate cisgender males and heterosexual relationships as the norm. This pervasive heteronormativity may have limited how the group discussed variations in their homes and personal beliefs. This epistemic injustice – or lack of collective resources that reflect the true breadth of experiences – has the potential to harm all participants. This study raises awareness of ways that variations in family and child experiences may be stultified in normative social discourses. Findings are potential resources for researchers, educators, and those interested in inclusiveness in educational settings for children.

Vivian L. Gadsden
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