Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bonnie Konopak


The study focused on six at-risk students enrolled in the sixth grade at a large urban Southern middle school. These students, along with their classroom teacher, participated in two interactive reading events using illustrated trade books. The purpose of the study was to examine how these students used the pictures and text to create meaning for the stories. The two illustrated selections differed in story complexity, amount of world knowledge required for interpretation, and relationship of pictures to text (i.e., a close relationship indicated both picture and text communicated similar information, while a distanced relationship indicated one source provided story insights not provided by the other medium). Each of the two reading events was analyzed for content that matched the story, level of abstraction, and facilitating guidance provided by the teacher. Results showed these six at-risk learners reconstructed the illustrated stories by widely varying their attention to information sources and using their personal knowledge for story interpretation. They revealed limited ability to retrieve world and cultural knowledge as well as limited acknowledgment that background knowledge could be a source of information for their story development.