Children reading alone and reading together: literary representations and lessons from a pandemic

(1) * Amy Marie Webster Mail (Bishop Grosseteste University, United Kingdom)
*corresponding author


This article first explores three literary representations of young people who are immersed in books by focusing on Alice’s sister in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Matilda. It argues that these characters create solitary reading experiences by being absorbed in books which provides escapism and company. It considers how representations of literary children immersed in books can provide a model of this type of reading behaviour for child readers, provided that these representations are sufficiently diverse. The article then focuses on primary literacy education in the United Kingdom and discusses how policy requirements can mean that children’s school reading experiences are often shared rather than solitary ones. It draws on a recent study of children’s reading habits (Topping, 2021) to highlight how children’s increased enjoyment in reading during the first lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic can be partly attributed to them having more time to read alone, which enabled them to become immersed in a story and made them feel better about being isolated. The article concludes by arguing that children need to have more opportunities in school to be alone with books to allow for immersive reading experiences.


Children’s literature; Children’s reading practices; Educational impact of Covid-19; Primary literacy education; Textual analysis



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