The texts that religious youth negotiate are often deeply embedded in their sociocultural practices, which can have profound influences on their religious literacy development, construction and manifestation of religious identities, and the development of their faith. Yet, although 85% of American youth claim a specific religious tradition, literacy research has not explored how these youth construct their views of sacred texts. In this two-year qualitative study of the literacy practices of nine Latter-day Saint youth, interviews and observations were used to explore what texts these youth considered sacred and how their views of these texts were informed by their religiocultural beliefs, values, and practices. Analyses indicate that views of sacred texts were informed by the regularity with which the youth engaged with these texts and their specific personal experiences with them. This work breaks new ground in the study of religion as social practice by exploring how religiocultural ways of doing and being influenced the development of young people's construction of sacred texts. Implications for religious instruction are provided.
About the Author
Eric D. Rackley (PhD, University of Michigan) is an Assistant Professor of Education at Brigham Young University-Hawai’i. His research focuses on the literacy practices of disciplinary experts and novices, religious youths’ literacy practices, and religious youths’ motivations for reading religious texts. His recent publications include “Scripture-Based Discourses of Latter-day Saint and Methodist Youths” (Reading Research Quarterly), “How Young Latter-day Saints Read the Scriptures: Five Profiles (The Religious Educator), and “Religious Youths’ Motivations for Reading Complex, Religious Texts” (Teachers College Record). He and his wife, Michelle (Jenkins) Rackley, are the parents of seven children: Josie, Joshua, Adam, Isaac, Jacob, Jared, and Anna-Sophia.