Reading, Motivation, and the Power of Social Relationships: Learning from Middle School Students in a Title I Reading Classroom


  • Dr. Trevor Thomas Stewart Virginia Tech
  • Dr. Emily Pendergrass Vanderbilt University



social relationships, student motivation, middle school


Adolescent students’ social relationships have myriad influences on their lives. Therefore, it is important to ascertain how students’ social relationships can inform teachers’ efforts to create authentic learning experiences and increase student motivation to develop life-long reading habits. This paper examines middle school students’ perceptions of reading and the connections between social relationships and reading. Drawing on a series of semi-structured interviews with eighth grades students, this paper discusses the role of social relationships in students’ motivation to read. The authors explore the students’ perceptions and some share some insight into how social relationships might increase students’ motivation to read. 

Author Biographies

  • Dr. Trevor Thomas Stewart, Virginia Tech

    Dr. Trevor Thomas Stewart ([email protected]) is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education and the Program Leader for English Education at Virginia Tech. He received his Ph.D. in Language & Literacy Education and a Certificate in Interdisciplinary Qualitative Studies from the University of Georgia (2010). Prior to becoming a teacher educator, Dr. Stewart worked as a high school English teacher in southwestern North Carolina. His research interests include the influences of educational policy and high-stakes testing on English teachers’ instructional practices, making creativity a central element of instruction, and the intersection between language and culture. 

  • Dr. Emily Pendergrass, Vanderbilt University

    Dr. Emily Pendergrass ([email protected]) taught elementary and middle school students for eleven years. While working alongside middle school students, she finished her Ph.D. in Language and Literacy Education at the University of Georgia. While at UGA, Emily worked extensively with the Red Clay Writing Project, part of the National Writing Project. Currently, Emily teaches courses in Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies and Secondary English Education at Vanderbilt University. Additionally, Emily works closely with the local public schools in literacy coaching and facilitating professional development workshops. 

Reading, Motivation, and the Power of Social Relationships (Stewart & Pendergrass, 2015)






Research and Practitioner Articles

How to Cite

Stewart, T. T., & Pendergrass, E. (2015). Reading, Motivation, and the Power of Social Relationships: Learning from Middle School Students in a Title I Reading Classroom. Georgia Journal of Literacy, 38(1), 25-31.

Similar Articles

1-10 of 86

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >>