“I Mostly Took Pictures of Things That Were Special to Me”: A Photo-Voice Project on Children’s Home Reading Practices

Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Cathlene HILLIER, University of Waterloo, Canada
Janice AURINI, University of Waterloo, Canada
As a part of a mixed methods project examining family engagement and literacy achievement in Ontario public schools, we conducted photo-interviews with 35 children (ages 5-8) in two schools located in socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhoods to find out more about their home-based literacy practices. Children were provided with a disposable camera to take home and respond to ten photo-prompts that related to their home literacy lives (e.g., take a picture of your favorite place to read). The photos were then used in face-to-face interviews with children as a catalyst for conversation. Thus far, analysis has primarily focused on the interviews with the children and what they had to tell us about reading at home. The purpose of the present study is to turn the analytical gaze on the photos themselves and ask: What can children show us about their home reading practices? Using economic, cultural, and social capital theories (Bourdieu, 1998), children’s photos are analyzed for the tangible resources (e.g., books) and intangible resources (e.g., parents’ helping their child with reading difficulties) that are provided in the home. Consideration of children’s own agency – also referred to as ‘child capital’ (Chin and Phillips, 2004) – in home reading is also included in analysis. The children’s photos gave us a window into their home literacy, the types of material resources available to children, and the people in their lives they can go to for help. Also, the photos reveal aspects of children’s agency in the learning opportunities that they sometimes create for themselves and their choices in the pictures they choose to take. To strengthen home-school literacy connections, we conclude with recommendations to school policy and literacy programming to build on the capital that children have at their disposal.