Becoming a Reader

The Experience of Fiction from Childhood to Adulthood

by J. A. Appleyard

Becoming a Reader argues that, whatever our individual differences of personality and background, there is a regular sequence of attitudes we go through as we mature, which affect how we experience fiction, from the five-year-old child absorbed in the world of fantasy play, through the seventeen year old critical seeker of the truth, to the middle-aged reader recognizing their own experiences in fictional characters. Becoming a Reader argues that this sequence of responses can be worked out and described. The evidence for these claims is drawn from numerous studies of reading and from interviews with a great many readers, young and old. The developmental perspective provides a useful framework for assessing the implications of competing theories of reading and for charting the evolution of individual readers. Finally, in allowing us to predict our reading experience, the book allows us, as adults, to choose what to do with the power which reading gives us.

  • Cambridge University Press; February 1991
  • ISBN: 9780511876998
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: Becoming a Reader
  • Author: J. A. Appleyard
  • Imprint: Cambridge University Press

In The Press

'This book is an excellent introduction to the kinds of fiction that appeal to school-age children, adolescents, and adults. It provides a rich and provocative as well as informative view of the why and what of experiencing fiction by readers of different ages. It introduces the basic ideas, assumptions, and themes in literary interpretation and criticism. It portrays the kinds of characters and stories that are recurrent in formulaic romance and adventure that appeal to all ages in different forms. As a basic primer on literature and literary experiences of children and adults, it is highly recommended.' American Journal of Psychology