CAD.20.020 – Reading with sense. Teaching literature inclusively.

Route: Child and adolescent development, upbringing and education

Cluster question: 065 What should education be like in the future?

Children in Dutch high schools show dropping rates for achievement in reading. Moreover, scores for reading time, pleasure and motivation are alarmingly low. Since reading literary texts promotes empathy and recognition of difference, this implies that children, especially in the lowest school levels, are excluded from a crucial form of social, emotional and cognitive participation and from a cultural archive that is part and parcel of Dutch citizenship.
This interdisciplinary project aims for a radical innovation in the way literary texts are taught in the Dutch school system. Building on recent educational debates and on meta-analyses of succesful international reading interventions, a new approach of literature for high schools (Vmbo, Havo, Vwo) and for teacher educational programs will be designed, implemented, and evaluated.
We propose an attractive form of reading, called ‘inquisitive’: an analytical and hermeneutic process of seven stages. By comparing texts with contemporary issues, visual media, other contexts and languages, students learn to see relations between individuals and societies, and to address ethical and political questions in past and present. The objectives are both cognitive, social and cultural: to improve literacy, and to teach both students and teachers a more up-to-date form of reading literature as a dialogical, dynamic process of identification, appropriation, and cultural negotiation.
Three breakthroughs are aimed for: First, fundamental knowledge about the effects of different teaching methods on literacy and reading motivation. Second, a
new and online co-created method for teaching literary and ethical, esthetical, democratic and personal skills and finally, a societal breakthrough in a form of teaching literature inclusively to all schoolchildren, rather than only on the highest levels. The co-created method with a more diverse and attractive corpus of texts, will stimulate engagement in children of all levels and cultural backgrounds. To achieve this, we work with a consortium of stakeholders and an interdisciplinary team of scholars.


civic education, Cultural literacy, identity, inclusion, personal development

Other organisations

Het Letterenfonds, Internationale Vereniging van Neerlandistiek, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Levende Talen, Literatuurmuseum, Nederlab, Prins Bernard Cultuurfonds, Stichting Leerplan Ontwikkeling, Stichting Lezen, Taalunie, Uitgeverij Blink, verschillende instellingen voor hoger en voortgezet onderwijs.


Organisation Leiden University (LEI)
Name Prof. dr. Y. (Yra) van Dijk