What is invited reading and resistant reading?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Invited reading is when a reader is able to read a text because he or she has the background to do so.  Resistant reading is when the reader’s background knowledge or ideology contradicts the text.

There are many approaches to teaching reading.  In any case, there is a difference between the writer’s intent and the reader’s background.  The reader’s background influences the meaning made by the reader.

Invited reading is when a reader is more likely to agree with or understand the text.

This is more likely to occur when there is a close match between the experiences, values and understandings set up in the text and shared by the reader. (see second link, p. 13) 

From this point of view, meaning is generated not just by the author, but by the reader’s interpretation.  Every reader is different.  Also, a reader can read something more than once, such as at different ages or stages, and get very different interpretations.  A reading can be different each time.

This approach does not lock readers into one invited reading. Multiple readings or meanings can be generated from the same text because of what each reader brings to that text. (see second link, p. 13)

Sometimes, a reader has a background or cultural assumption that does not match the text.  In this case, resistant reading might develop.  This means that the reader does not agree, or does not know about, the content.  This reader is not going to have the same reaction as an invited reader would.

Reading practices generated from the world-context-centred approach allow more radical challenges to the text’s invited readings, by facilitating a challenge to the text’s cultural assumptions. (p. 13)

Using reader-centred approaches, readers may read more than the text’s invited meaning.  Teachers can recognize that every reader will approach the meaning-making process differently.  What can teachers do?  Teachers can help generate invited reading by building background knowledge.  Teachers can also avoid resistant reading by helping students be more tolerant to divergent or opposing viewpoints.