Literacy on television

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Romanowski, Dawn Elyse
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This study examined how much literacy was depicted in six popular prime time situation comedies—Community, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, Parks and Recreation, The Big Bang Theory, and The Office. The first five episodes of each program’s first season were analyzed, as to the number of literacy events present and the durations of such, using a Literacy Events Checklist. Whether there were readers in evidence on the programs was examined. Whether the readers were portrayed in such a way that they, and their reading habits, might be emulated by young people was also investigated. The Literacy Events Checklists were analyzed and coded according to categories designated by the researcher. Findings indicate that literacy is depicted to a certain extent on these programs, in some programs more than in others. Readers were found in each program. A Reader Checklist was employed in order to determine common reader traits among these readers. Findings indicate that, although there are some common reader traits among the readers, they are not entirely negative. The diversity of the readers found in these programs reflects the diversity of readers in society. Recommendations for educators include sharing with students the statistics regarding the time spent reading and the time spent watching television in North America, and having students examine their own habits in this regard. This message could be brought to the community through school-wide initiatives at various levels, and the incorporation of parental involvement.
Reading, Secondary