From Text to Epitext: Expanding Students’ Comprehension, Engagement, and Media Literacy

Libraries ­Unlimited. Mar. 2021. 197p. ed. by Witte, Shelbie, Melissa Gross & Don Latham, eds. pap. $55. ISBN 9781440877490.
In this thought-provoking collection, editors and academics Witte, Gross, and Latham explore epitexts, or elements outside of a text, such as author interviews, book blogs, and tweets. Building on the work of scholar Gérard Genette, the editors demonstrate how epitexts offer a more complete reading experience, resulting in a higher degree of comprehension, engagement, and critical thinking. Examining specific works and their epitexts (such as Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls, Dhonielle Clayton’s The Belles, and Art Spiegelman’s Maus), contributors explain how educators could use the epitext to enhance the understanding of a particular work. In addition to examining YA fiction, biographies, and fan fiction, the authors consider media such as movies, video games, and game-based role-play. Incorporating epitexts into the teaching of books and media provides an excellent opportunity for teachers and librarians to collaborate. Librarians would be able to curate the epitext, teach students how to evaluate primary source material, or design authentic research experiences, while the teacher focuses on the work itself.
VERDICT Recommended for secondary English teachers and librarians who seek to provide a rich and engaging reading experience.

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