How to judge a book by its cover—and everything else

For Immediate Release
Mon, 11/12/2018


Rob Christopher

Marketing Coordinator

ALA Publishing

American Library Association


CHICAGO — Paying attention to subtext is a crucial component of literacy. However, the concept of peritextual analysis takes such examination much further, teaching readers how to evaluate information and sources using elements that precede or follow the body of the text. A work’s Preface, Afterword, index, dust jacket, promotional blurbs, and bibliography are only some of the elements that can be used to help readers connect with and understand the main text. Published by ALA Editions in partnership with National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), “Literacy Engagement through Peritextual Analysis,” speaks directly to librarians and educators working with K-16 students. This important book by Shelbie Witte, Don Latham, and Melissa Gross:

  • outlines the Peritextual Literacy Framework and explains its unique utility as a teaching and thinking tool;
  • defines components such as production elements, promotional elements, navigational elements, intratextual elements, supplemental elements, and documentary elements, offering examples drawn from both print and non-print texts;
  • presents several case studies showing peritextual analysis in action, ranging from young adult nonfiction in the classroom to strengthening students’ visual literacy skills by critically comparing and contrasting two graphic novel covers; and
  • examines how the functions of peritext and the Peritextual Literacy Framework exist within online news articles, film and media packaging, and other non-print texts.

Witte, Ph.D., is the Chuck and Kim Watson Endowed Chair in Education and Professor in Adolescent Literacy and English Education at Oklahoma State University, where she directs the OSU Writing Project and the Initiative for 21st Century Literacies Research. She serves as editor (with Sara Kajder) of Voices from the Middle, NCTE’s premiere middle-level journal. Her writing credits include “Toward a More Visual Literacy: Shifting the Paradigm with Digital Tools and Young Adult Literature” and “Young Adult Literature and the Digital World: Textual Engagement Through Visual Literacy,” both with Jennifer S. Dail and Steven Bickmore. Latham, Ph.D., is a professor in the School of Information at Florida State University. He has served as a board member of the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE), a member of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Research Committee and Research Journal Advisory Committee, and chair of the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award Committee. He has published extensively in the areas of information literacy, information behavior of youth, and young adult literature, including the book “David Almond: Memory and Magic.” Gross, Ph.D., is professor and doctoral program chair in the School of Information Studies at Florida State University and past president of the Association for Library and Information Science Education. She was awarded the American Association of University Women Recognition Award for Emerging Scholars in 2001. She has published extensively in the areas of information-seeking behavior, information literacy, information resources for youth, and teacher/librarian collaboration.

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