Animal-assisted Literacy Learning as Carnival: A Bakhtinian Analysis

By Lori Friesen.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Millions of children in North America continue to struggle with reading. The growing popularity of animal-assisted literacy programs in schools and libraries across the globe bolsters an acknowledged tension between the literacy supports children are currently receiving in classrooms and the kinds of assistance they may need or want. Through the lens of Bakhtin’s carnival, this case study into one grade 2 classroom explored how students experience an animal-assisted literacy program, and examined what the significance of these experiences may be for children. Three key themes are discussed: (1) the participation of all children as an anticipated escape from regular classroom life, (2) animal-assisted literacy learning as playful, familiar experiences steeped in imagination, and (3) free and familiar contact as a facilitator of novel and familial modes of interrelationship in the classroom context. This research will assist researchers, policy makers, teachers, and parents to consider alternative, effective literacy experiences for elementary school children.

Keywords: Animal-assisted, Literacy Learning, School-based Mentorship, Bakhtin

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp.305-324. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.354MB).

Lori Friesen

PhD Candidate, Department of Elementary Education, Language and Literacy, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Lori Friesen is currently working full-time towards her PhD in Elementary Education at the University of Alberta. She earned her Masters in Education in the area of Teacher Development at the University of Lethbridge and wrote The Beginning Teacher’s Handbook for Elementary School (2008) as the final project for this degree. In addition to teaching in Hong Kong and Japan, Lori taught elementary school for seven years and taught for one year in The Faculty of Education at the University of Lethbridge. Lori’s work related to animal-assisted literacy learning has been published in various peer-reviewed journals, including Early Childhood Education Journal, Language & Literacy, LEARNing Landscapes, and in the Association for Childhood Education International. In 2011, Lori was inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society in recognition of her outstanding academic achievement and excellence.


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