‘Reading’ Textbooks

Developing learners as curious, critical readers of history


  • Kate Angier University of Cape Town




reading like a historian, textbook analysis, historical thinking, history education


This paper demonstrates how history textbooks can be used in high school classrooms as ‘primary’ as well as ‘secondary’ sources, to develop learners as critical and curious readers of history.  History textbooks, like any other historical account, are a form of discourse which present a selected and ideologically constructed interpretation of the past; however, school learners tend to view them uncritically as 'the truth'.  Simple strategies of ‘annotation and tabulation’ provide scaffolding which enable learners to deconstruct the textbook extracts (literally and figuratively) and identify the similarities and differences between accounts given of the same event. This in turn make more visible the ideological construction of school textbooks and the authorial positionality of the writers, encouraging learners to ask questions about their provenance and purpose. The classroom activities described in this article encourage learners to consider the effect and affect of telling the stories of the past in different ways, and help them to develop their disciplinary skills of reading and thinking like a historian. 



How to Cite

Angier, K. (2022). ‘Reading’ Textbooks: Developing learners as curious, critical readers of history. Annals of Social Studies Education Research for Teachers, 3(2), 37–47. https://doi.org/10.29173/assert44