The Unifying Power of a Whole-School Read





This article describes an urban middle school community that took part in a yearlong literacy engagement—a whole-school read of a young adult novel. The authors, three researchers from a nearby university, documented the yearlong event and the effect it had on the school's academic and social spaces. Relying on the perspective that literacy is ideologically laden and on Bernstein's conceptions of pedagogy, the authors found that the whole-school read served as a unifying concept that created learning environments in which “things were put together.” Teachers entertained uncertainty toward learning outcomes and valued a text that could connect to students' lives and open doors for discussion of critical issues. Within the school's learning spaces, readers came to deeper understandings of text and each other through dialogue, teachers and students across grade levels collaborated, and boundaries between previously segregated subject areas were blurred.