Journal of Early Childhood Literacy

Published by SAGE Publications
Print ISSN: 1468-7984
The contributions of mothers’ and children's oral language to children's school readiness were longitudinally examined among 75 low-income mothers and children. When children were 36 months, mothers’ and children's lexical diversity, mothers’ wh-questions, and children's PPVT-III scores were assessed from play interactions. At pre-kindergarten, mothers and children shared a personal narrative, and various aspects of mothers’ and children's narratives were coded. Children were assessed on their knowledge about print, letter-word identification, mathematical skills and sustained attention, and scores were combined into a single factor of school readiness. Structural equation analyses yielded two pathways to school readiness. Mothers’ wh-questions and lexical diversity predicted children's PPVT-III scores at 36 months, which in turn predicted children's school readiness. Mothers’ 36-month lexical diversity predicted mothers’ narrative prompts, which related to children's narrative contributions. Children's narrative contributions in turn predicted school readiness. Mother-child conversations support the school readiness of children from low-income backgrounds.
Stimuli for Study 1 
Prior letter knowledge
Study 1: Mean proportion correct on the letter-naming and letter-recognition tasks for the Standard, Manipulative and 2-D conditions Note: The line across the letter-recognition bars indicates the chance level of .25; n ¼ 48.
Stimuli for Study 2 
Study 2: Mean proportion correct on the letter-naming and letter-recognition tasks for the four conditions Note: The line across the letter-recognition bars indicates the chance level of .25; n ¼ 64.
One of the most common types of interaction between parents and their very young children is picture-book reading, with alphabet books being one of the most popular types of book used in these interactions. Here we report two studies examining alphabet letter learning by 30- to 36-month-old children in book-reading interactions with an adult. Each child encountered either a standard type of children’s book or a book with manipulative features – flaps, levers, textures and other elements designed to elicit physical manipulation. In the first study, the children learned more letters with the relatively plain books than with a book with manipulative features. The manipulative elements apparently distracted them from the information in that book. In the second study, a manipulative feature that was specifically designed to attract children’s attention to the letters did not facilitate performance. These results are consistent with the theoretical concept of dual representation and they have important practical implications for the design and selection of educationally oriented books for very young children.
Commercial phonics programmes (e.g. Jolly Phonics and Letterland) are becoming widely used in the early years of school. These programmes claim to use a systematic explicit approach, considered as the preferred method of phonics instruction for teaching alphabetic code-breaking skills in Australia and the UK in the first years of school (Department of Education, Science and Training, 2005; Rose, 2006). However, little is known about the extent to which they are being used in prior-to-school settings, and the reasons behind decisions to use them. This study surveyed 283 early childhood staff in Sydney, Australia and found that commercial phonics programmes were being used in 36% of the early childhood settings surveyed. Staff with early childhood university qualifications and staff working in not-for-profit service types were less likely to use a commercial phonics programme than staff without university qualifications and staff working in for-profit services. Staff with less than 10 years’ experience were also more likely to use a commercial phonics programme. The rationale behind decisions determining whether or not staff used the programmes ranged from pragmatic reasons, such as parent pressure or higher management decisions, to pedagogical reasons, such as teacher beliefs about how children learn to read and write. The practices staff engage in to teach phonics are explored.
In this paper, we illustrate how young children from four faith communities (Tamil Hindu/Saiva, Bangladeshi Muslim, Polish Catholic and Ghanaian Pentecostal) new to London bring together and juxtapose an array of different languages, literacies, learning and discourse styles, communicative resources and experience to create unique personal narratives. We draw on the concepts of syncretism and syncretic literacy to examine and interpret the creative and transformative processes in which children engage, and to show how children combine and ultimately make sense of faith and everyday experiences.
This article is a materialist philosophical and historical analysis of the current policy focus on early intervention programmes for print literacy. It documents the direct impact of economic and cultural globalization and new technologies on the material conditions for adolescence and youth. We argue that educational systems and government policies are struggling with the consequences of these changes: new forms of identity, technological competence and practice, and new life pathways for children and adolescents. The case is made that the current enthusiasm for early intervention programs is a 'rhetorical displacement' that attempts to solve the problems of unruly adolescence and the emergence of the 'techno-subject' through an 'inoculation' model dedicated to the restoration and preservation of print-based early childhood.
Internal Perspective on Play and Design: Modes, Meanings, and Strategies Inside the Game Interaction Turns/Game Turns & Modes Strategies & Meanings 
External Perspective on Play and Design: Modes, Social Space, and Player Identities Outside the Game Interaction/Game Turns & Modes Social Space & Player Identities 
Contrasting Internal and External Perspectives on Ending Turns of Pretended Video Game 
Ravit's health bar refilled
In this article, semiotic analysis of children’s practices and designs with video game conventions considers how children use play and drawing as spatializing literacies that make room to import imagined technologies and user identities. Microanalysis of video data of classroom interactions collected during a three year ethnographic study of children’s literacy play in kindergarten and primary classrooms reveals how the leading edge of technology use in print-centric classrooms is pretended into being by 5- , 6-, and 7-year-old “early adopters” a marketing term for first wave consumers who avidly buy and explore newly-released technology products. Early adopters signals two simultaneous identities for young technology users: 1) as developing learners of new literacies and technologies and 2) as curious explorers who willingly play with new media. Children transformed paper and pencil resources into artifacts for enacting cell phone conversations and animating video games, using new technologies and the collaborative nature of new literacies to perform literate identities and to strengthen the cohesiveness of play groups.
In what ways are childhood and literacy political? The identification and categorization of the ‘child’ as a distinctive kind of human subject coincided with the formation of the European nation state, the proliferation of mercantile economies and calls for mass literacy and secular schooling (Luke, 1989). There is a longstanding and powerful connection between ‘childhood’ as an ontological and cultural category and what Benedict Anderson (1991) called ‘print capitalism’.
Young children explore their world through manipulatives, playing with ‘technology’ that may or may not be digital. To this end, I offer an exploration into how the existing framework of the New Media Literacies (NMLs) paradigm set forth by Henry Jenkins (2006) in Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century might be applicable to early childhood education. For the purposes of this paper, I focus on three of the twelve NML skills (play, distributed cognition and transmedia navigation) and how they might each be reflected in the interplay between digital and non-digital media within Reggio Emilia-inspired teaching and learning. Aligning the discussion of young children's media use with NMLs might allow for greater examination of the potential positive benefits of digital and non-digital media and technology.
This article examines the relationship between literacy and play in six- and seven-year-olds’ engagement with non-fiction writing. I draw from a year-long ethnographic study (Erickson, 1986) of a US classroom's ‘writing time’, intentionally structured on children’s own interests and enquiries. Rather than strict adherence to monolithic models described in the school region’s mandated curriculum and assessments, the children treated genres as porous and used writing as a tool for multi-modal play. In authoring and interacting with non-fiction texts, they blended ‘real’ and ‘imaginary’ worlds as they communed with historical figures on their own terms. Children used play to enquire into and manipulate the parameters of non-fiction, authoring their relationships with knowledge in the process. Through their exchanges with one another, children became familiar with non-fiction topics. At the same time, their play positioned conventional academic discourses as being open to transformation. This article makes an argument for a more synergistic conception of ‘serious’ and ‘playful’ authoring practices, and for the role of play as a component of critical literacy.
This article examines the significance of Diva Starz, a new line of interactive dolls aimed at young girls between 6 and 11 years for current models of literacy. It argues that these dolls have much to tell us about the construction of children as consumers, our views about ‘childhood’, and the models of literacy instruction most appropriate for giving children the skills and knowledge needed to deal with the complex pedagogic texts characteristic of childhood in contemporary consumer culture.
Descriptions of literacy-related guidance
Descriptions of guided participation in a shared activity
Mean literacy-related guidance provided during reading two storybooks, by parent and child gender Mothers Fathers
The nature of parental guidance during book reading is an important influence on developmental outcomes linked to literacy and language. Despite extensive research documenting the importance of gender roles and schemas on young children’s participation in the sociocultural environment, little is known about the possible influences of parent and child gender on participation in literacy activities. The purpose of this study was to observe guidance behaviours employed by 26 mothers and fathers when reading to their three-year-old child in separate sessions. There was a consistent pattern of findings indicating that fathers provided more guidance to daughters, whereas mothers had higher rates of guided participation with sons. However, there were no differences on parental ratings of enjoyment or frequency of reading with sons or daughters. Theresults highlight interesting differences in parent-child interactions during reading and suggest that both parent and child gender may influence exchanges during shared storybook reading.
This research draws on the reflections from group discussions with indigenous families and interviews with early childhood educators and community stakeholders from five First Nations reserve communities in Canada whose young children participate in the national aboriginal Head Start On Reserve (AHSOR) programme. The purpose of the study was to examine the contributions of indigenous knowledge to young indigenous children's literacy learning. In the course of this examination what became clear is that there is a greater set of literacy activities in these families than is recognized by early learning settings. Further, there is a literacy orientation within their indigenous knowledge systems that, draws on oral tradition, land-based experiences and ceremonial practices that, when linked to the discourses of schooling and literacy, provide the basis for improving educational outcomes for indigenous children and families, whose relationship with schooling has been historically troubled.
Historically, US schools have failed multicultural and multilingual children of colour and marginalized expansive conceptualizations of home and community literacy practices. Given the importance of fully inclusive education, this article seeks to understand the ways in which young multilingual and multicultural children take up issues of educational success and inclusion through translinguistic oral narratives. Through the analysis of a representative narrative authored by an Afro-Latino boy within the context of an afterschool programme, I introduce the notion of children as syncretic natives, intentionally and skilfully navigating within and across normative binaries set up by teachers who often occupy the role of syncretic immigrants. Because of a lack of support through professional development, teacher education and/or the ideologies promoted in school systems, many teachers tend to stick to a menu of known pedagogical practices and tools, taking on the role of syncretic immigrants as they implement and enforce normative binaries as opposite and exclusionary educational practices. As syncretic natives, children tend to engage in the creation of new practices, which move beyond traditional normative binaries. Findings indicate incoherencies in the construction of normative educational binaries and what counts as educational success. Implications point to the need for teachers to learn how to disrupt and move beyond normative binaries in order to see the brilliant syncretic practices of young children from multicultural and multilingual backgrounds, thus fashioning more fully inclusive curricula and teaching with the acknowledgement and recognition that children are syncretic natives who bring knowledge and expertise that can greatly enrich classroom opportunities for them to learn and grow.
This article presents a qualitative case study of a sevenyear-old Mexican American student and his family. Using Critical Discourse Analysis, we examine both the child’s emergent ideas about language, as expressed in bilingual literature discussions, and his parents’ ideological discourses about the use of a minority language in public schools. Vygotsky’s theory of learning oriented this research on language ideologies, focusing on how parents’ ideological discourses shape both literacy development and identity formation in early childhood. Our findings illustrate the importance of looking beyond the classroom and school contexts to identify diverse factors that may affect children’s development of biliteracy in early childhood, such as the role of language ideologies. This study demonstrates the complex relationships between literacy, language ideologies, and issues of identity within the broader contexts of controversies over bilingual education and official English laws in the USA.
Key factors about the children
The informants
The Re-Tellings
This article sets out to make the point that if teachers and others have, as the evidence by which they will place, teach and assess young bilinguals, only those children’s performance in English, they are not likely to appreciate the full range of their capacities, and their linguistic capacity above all others.The theoretical overview is followed by sets of data deriving from four UK researchers. Rose Drury shows the interface of the home and school environments for a young bilingual girl. Charmian Kenner compares the first-and additional-language literacies of a young child in nursery. Tim Parke investigates the performance of three young potential bilinguals, retelling stories in English and then in their mother tongue. Leena Helavaara Robertson investigates the role of community schools and their construction by central agencies. Finally the authors re-state their focus, stressing what is revealed in young bilingual children’s language abilities by the work they have presented and suggesting some implications for pedagogy and practice in early years contexts.
This article explores the ways in which young emergent bilingual children begin to develop literacy in two languages, Spanish and English.Three case studies of four-year-old Mexican-background children and their families living in southern Arizona are presented from a qualitative socio-psycholinguistic perspective. The children’s home and classroom interactions were observed and analyzed for patterns of language and literacy in their two languages. The findings show that these emergent bilinguals learn and develop their own ‘theories’ and ‘concepts’ about language and literacy from an early age. The conversational participants and interlocutors were among the factors that directly influenced children’s development of language and literacy in Spanish and English. In addition, context was another important factor that contributed positively to the development of their emergent bilingualism and biliteracy. Finally, I discuss the language-literacy strategies that these Mexican-background children use as they try to make sense of their metalinguistic and biliteracy knowledge, while developing additional literacy tools and resources in both Spanish and English.
This article argues that children gain access to an enhanced range of communicative resources through familiarity with more than one writing system. Different scripts can be seen as different modes, giving rise to a variety of potentials for meaning-making. In case-studies of children’s responses to learning Chinese, Arabic or Spanish as well as English at the age of six, they were found to be exploring these potentials in terms of symbol design, spatial framing and directionality. A multimodal analysis shows how children can build up ‘embodied knowledges’ as they construct different visual and actional dispositions through the bilingual script-learning experience. Such flexibility is likely to be an asset in a world that makes increasing use of multilingual and multimodal communication.
In this article, we argue against deficit models of early literacy common in the field of speech pathology, proposing instead a competence-based view of early literacy as the concurrent development of language practices develop through social interaction. We look specifically at shared book-reading, developing a discourse analysis of case study data that show how parents do considerable interactional work to position their children with language delays as competent and active co-constructors of meaning in this important early literacy activity.
The reading process and reading development have been addressed by researchers for decades. As a result we know much about what reading is and how it happens. However, less is known about how reading influences other aspects of children’s development, specifically the development of social imagination. To address this, we examined the narrative produced by one child during wordless picture book reading using a conceptually derived coding scheme to identify instances of social imagination. We asked: Is children’s use of social imagination visible in wordless book reading, and if so, what does it look like and how might it give us a more detailed in-process view of the reader–text transaction? Results suggest that the use of social imagination is observable in wordless book reading and that it is an integral part of the comprehension of stories. From this we posit that through vicarious engagement with others, the process of reading may influence the relational capacity for social imagination.
In this paper, we analyse one aspect of home–school book sharing, namely the activity of borrowing a book. We describe how the borrowing activity is accomplished in daily practice in two Dutch preschools and which emergent literacy practices can be embedded in this routine. We followed fifteen children, aged from two years to four years, and analysed how they were involved in the borrowing activity as part of home–school book sharing. In total we analysed sixty borrowing events. We found three variations of the borrowing act: children were not involved at all; they were involved in a basic borrowing routine; and they were involved in an extended borrowing routine. In the case of no involvement, the teacher chose a book without the child being present, or the child did not get a new book at all. In the other two cases there was teacher–child interaction. The structure of the basic routine is: (1) the teacher orients the child to the activity; (2) the child browses books and selects one; and (3) the teacher acknowledges the child’s choice. In the extended routine there are supplemental orientations to literacy practices, either about (future) reading or about writing down the choice. Microanalysis of borrowing interactions revealed that although both preschools had implemented the home–school book sharing programme, literacy experiences for individual children differed.
This article positions a view of student responses with relation to current literacy expectations. Student responses to a single book, The Egypt Game, are explored. The responses are analysed from a group and individual student perspectives. The responses demonstrate the complex understandings that young students created about this book. Connections to current classroom practices are explored.
Multimodal representation of introduction to the book
This article reports on aspects of a small-scale study conducted in the south of England that explored the learning experiences of three four-year-old children with identified special educational needs, who attended a combination of early education settings--one "more special" and one "more inclusive" (Nind et al., 2007). The article reflects on the concept of inclusive literacy, and proposes that a model of literacy as social practice can provide an enabling framework for understanding how young children with learning difficulties interpret and use a range of shared sign systems. Drawing on an ethnographic, video case study of one girl, Mandy, the article gives an overview of her observed literacy experiences at home and in the two educational settings she attended, and then focuses on the collaborative, multimodal nature of the literacy events and practices she encountered. Detailed multimodal analysis of a selected literacy event highlights the salience of embodied action and the shapes of inclusive learning spaces, and points to the importance of valuing individuals' idiosyncratic and multimodal meaning-making. The article concludes with discussion of how opportunities for literacy learning can be generated effectively in an inclusive learning environment for young children with learning difficulties. The study was funded by Rix Thompson Rothenberg Foundation (RTR). (Contains 3 figures, 1 table, and 4 notes.)
Over the past three decades numerous studies from the English-speaking world have pointed to the advantages for young children of family involvement in their literacy development. However, their emphasis has always been firmly and almost exclusively upon parentsworking with children in specific waysand often using school-sanctioned materials. This article investigates the role played by young siblings close in age in each others’ literacy development and argues for a unique reciprocity in learning between older and younger child. Thus it steps outside hitherto recognized paradigms of ‘scaffolding’ and ‘collaborative learning’. This reciprocity of learning I refer to as a synergywhereby siblings act as adjuvants, stimulating and fostering each others’ development. Using examples from Bangladeshi and Anglo children living in East London, the article traces ways in which synergy takes place between dyads through play activities in home and community contexts.
Drawing on theories of multi-modality and critical visual literacy, this article focuses on images that five-and six year-olds painted in a class-made book, Voice on the Bus, about racial segregation. The article discusses how children used illustrations to convey their understandings of Rosa Parks’ bus arrest in Alabama. A post-structural view focusing on images that five- and six year-olds painted in a class-made book, Voices on the Bus, about racial segregation, the article discusses how children used illustrations to convey their understanding of Rosa Parks’ bus arrest in Alabama. A post-structural (Kind, 2010) idea of art as an encounter, not as a fixed representation, shaped how the images were experienced for analysis. Using the notion of synaesthesia (the joining of senses), paintings were analysed for evoked emotions and blended sensations (Berman, 1999; Boston, 2001). Additional analysis focused on sedimented meanings (Rowsell and Pahl, 2007), looking for traces from curricular conversations and local/global D/discourses about segregation, schooling experiences and religious undertones (Gee, 1996). The following analytical questions are discussed: In what ways does this illustration evoke a synaesthetic response? How is this image agentic? What are the sedimented meanings from the images? Insights gained are that children can create synaesthetic images to evoke emotions; educators can find traces of sedimented histories in student-made artefacts; and perhaps social action is embodied and expressed through art. Researchers are encouraged to continue using a hybrid of literacy theories and tools for multi-modal analysis.
Social capital – the social relations between people – is an important component of the family environment and is crucial for the creation of human capital for the next generation. Drawing on James S. Coleman’s theory of family capital, this study focuses on parents’ utilization of social capital to support children’s literacy acquisition in four Singaporean and immigrant middle-class Chinese families in Singapore. Comparative analyses of observation and interview data reveal that these families differed not only in the volume of social capital they possessed but also in the activation of this capital for their children’s biliteracy and educational development. They also reveal that the parents’ application of social capital is motivated by such factors as the status of the family (immigrant or native), parental occupation, parents’ educational views and the family’s acculturation to the host society (in the case of immigrant families). Furthermore, a family’s skilful use of its social capital could compensate for a relative shortage of human capital. These findings, taken as a whole, contribute to Coleman’s theory by disentangling potential from actualized social capital.
Full-text of this article is not available in this e-prints service. This article was originally published following peer-review in Journal of early childhood literacy, published by and copyright Sage. This article argues that young children are capable of complex abstract reasoning which is rooted in their physical and emotional engagement with the world. It suggests that even apparently commonplace representative objects are not transparent, and children are faced with a major interpretative problem when becoming familiar with symbolic images and objects. It also suggests that young children are motivated by an expectation of significance about the symbolic systems they encounter, including systems of low modality like writing. Their interpretative activity is mediated through physical and bodily resources, of which gaze is of major significance to sighted children when reasoning about visual, spatial modes of symbolic representation. The article presents a micro-semiotic, multimodal analysis of a small section of video film in which a two year old child is engaged, with her father, in drawing and marking: representing and interpreting graphic signs. Three functions of gaze are identified during this activity: analytic, interpersonal and expressive. The systematic and motivated coordination of these types of gaze with other bodily modes, including language, is shown. The article concludes that the boundaries between young children’s bodily and cognitive activity can be seen to be flexible, making many of their processes of reasoning and interpretation about systems of symbolic representation accessible to description.
This paper discusses findings from the Danish contribution to the EASE project, a European research project running from 2008 to 2010 on early literacy in relation to the transition from childcare to school. It explores a holistic inclusive approach to early literacy that resists a narrow accountability-oriented Danish policy (mirroring international trends). The paper draws on Broström's (2006a, 2006b, 2008, 2009) re-conceptualization of early childhood education and care (ECEC), which perceives care, upbringing and teaching as a unified whole, challenging both childcare services and schools. The paper also draws on Gee's (2001, 2003, 2004, 2008) sociocultural approach to literacy, and Honneth's (2003, 2006) concept of recognition. Emphasizing participation and recognition as key elements, it claims that stakeholders in early literacy must pay attention to how diverse early literacy opportunities empower children, especially when these opportunities are employed in a project-based learning environment in which each child is able to contribute to shared literacy events.
This paper argues that the revival of the Gothic as an expression of contemporary tensions and issues has significance for our views of childhood and, as a consequence, for literacy and literacy education. While the ways in which Gothic literature and other Gothic popular culture forms are used to speak to these tensions have shifted across time and place, they have, regardless, proved an enduring forum for the articulation of uncomfortable issues and anxieties. Constructions of childhood and the world in which children live are positioned within these larger social, economic and political currents and, more specifically, are cornerstones of perceptions of literacy, education and the literate citizen’s identity. It is from this stance that this paper examines the seepage of the Gothic into popular culture for children. The paper begins by acknowledging the significance of the contemporary Gothic and then moves on to consider how deeply the Gothic has seeped into popular culture, by examining a range of Gothic toys. If the contemporary Gothic revival is a marker of anxiety around identity, trust, authenticity and, to some extent, childhood itself, then how does this impact on the kinds of literate practices and moral economies associated with children? The paper explores this question.
Full-text of this article is not available in this e-prints service. This article was originally published following peer-review in Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, published by and copyright Sage Publications Ltd. This article reports on some of the findings of an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project that looks at the mark-making of children under three years old. The data were all collected in the children's homes, and multimodal transcription and analyses were used. The project focused on an investigation of the principles that children use when they first start to construct signs that associate the making of marks with the representation of personal meanings, including those that relate to systems of writing. The article is set in the wider context of discussion of related educational practice. Two findings are discussed in detail, with a presentation of exemplar evidence from analyses of the mark-making of two of the children. In the first, the relationship between marks made by young children, and systems and notations of drawing, writing and number is considered; evidence from this research suggests that while they draw on these systems, young children produce graphic signs that have an independent status, and that have relational structures that refer to other signs within the text, as well as to external objects and experiences. The second finding looks at how children use everyday social and bodily experiences to evolve predictable mark-making structures, and examines this process of grammaticization in a child's construction of an inventory.
This article reports on an ethnographic study involving the literacy practices of two multilingual Chinese children from two similar yet different cultural and linguistic contexts: Montreal and Singapore. Using syncretism as a theoretical tool, this inquiry examines how family environment and support facilitate children’s process of becoming literate in multiple languages. Informed by sociocultural theory, the inquiry looks in particular at the role of grandparents in the syncretic literacy practices of children. Through comparative analysis, the study reveals similarities and differences that, when considered together, contribute to our understanding of multilingual children’s creative forms of learning with regard to their rich literacy resources in multiple languages, the imperceptible influences of mediators, various learning styles and syncretic literacy practices.
Grandparents play a significant role in childcare and one activity that frequently occurs within this context is story-reading. However, relatively little attention has been given to the potential part that grandparents can play in terms of language and literacy development of young children.This article reports on work investigating the interlingual and intercultural exchanges occurring in a home setting in East London. In particular, it focuses on how the traditional heritage pattern of story and rhyme reading by a grandmother of Bengali origin is fused with practices experienced by her six-year old grandchild.The data reveal not only the multiple worlds inhabited by the grandchild during story-reading but also the syncretism of these worlds on a number of levels.This article contributes to the small but growing body of investigation into the reading styles occurring within families from different cultural backgrounds.
A wealth of research demonstrates that as young children acquire literacy they also approximate literate roles and relationships. Such literate identifications, or storied selves, are complex, sometimes contradictory and under construction for young people. Less research has focused on how young children’s storied selves are discursively constituted across domains of practice. Given this gap in the literature, we ask: How do young children author themselves as literate in the domains of school and home? What social languages, cultural models, discourses, relationships and situated identities do they enact? To answer these questions, we drew on interviews conducted with first and second grade students who participated in a literacy clinic at an urban school site. The children were asked to report on their literacy lives in different domains of practice. Using the tools of critical discourse analysis, we examined the discursive contours of children’s literate identities in different domains. Through cross-case analyses and ‘telling cases’, our findings suggest that young children call on a hybrid mix of discourse patterns to author themselves as literate beings. The students remain positive and enthusiastic about reading and themselves as readers, despite needing additional literacy support. However, the existence of alignment and conflict between the discourses of the home and school domains creates reasons for attending to students’ literate identities in closer detail.
Children from minority-language backgrounds have multiple sites of learning: home, community, mainstream school, and in some cases complementary school where they study their mother tongue after school or at weekends. However, due to the institutional constraints of an education system based on monolingual principles, mainstream teachers are often unaware of the contribution that complementary classes make to children’s learning, or unsure of how to draw on their pupils’ linguistic knowledge in the curriculum. Children’s multilingual identities and their other worlds of learning therefore remain invisible in mainstream school. This paper describes an action research study with teachers from complementary and mainstream schools in East London, in which they jointly planned lessons around topics that were then taught in both settings. The complementary teachers brought a holistic perspective based in the linguistic and cultural knowledge of their communities, which enabled these resources to be brought into mainstream learning, thus creating a syncretic curriculum that led to an increase in agency of children and their families as well as teachers themselves. We argue that collaboration between complementary and mainstream teacher colleagues can play a crucial role in constructing a space for multilingual learning in a monolingualizing society.
Drawing from a four-year critical ethnographic study of young girls and their literacy practices inside and outside school, this article foregrounds a lived pedagogical moment when conflicting discourses about reading instruction collided in a critically focused second-grade classroom. Through my analyses I make the argument that the pervasiveness of autobiographical connection-making with texts in early reading instruction positions readers to align themselves with the practices and ideological stances of texts rather than to challenge and critique them. This argument will be extended to consider particular literacy-infused experiences of students who are persistently marginalized in society and written out of existence by mainstream children’s literature produced for early readers that sees class-privileged lives as normal. In the conclusion, I suggest that although the Four Resources Model (Freebody and Luke, 1990; Luke and Freebody, 1999) offers four families of practices ‘necessary for literacy in new conditions, but none in and of itself is sufficient for literate citizens or subjects’ (Luke and Freebody, 1999, p.4), the model needs extending to consider issues relating to how marginalized readers may need to feel a sense of entitlement in order to position themselves as text analysts before they can begin challenging and questioning mainstream texts that consistently position their working-class lives as non-existent.
The main purpose of this study was to examine the classroom, teacher and student factors distinguishing grade three classes performing at higher levels than expected, in relation to socioeconomic status (SES) and language factors, from classes performing below their potential with regard to the same factors. Data from a standardized reading comprehension test and student and teacher questionnaires covering teacher, classroom and student characteristics were collected. The participants were 1,092 grade three classes and their class teachers, from Stockholm, Sweden. By use of regression and a twin-matching procedure, one group of 94 underachieving classes and another group of 94 overachieving classes were formed for comparison. Data about extended voluntary reading, classroom climate, teacher experience and the use of authentic literature were seen to be the main four indicators discriminating between over- and underachieving classes beyond the impact of SES and language background.
A principal aim of the National Curriculum in England was to ensure equality of opportunity for all children, regardless of race or social class. This aim was strengthened through the introduction of the National Literacy Strategy 10 years later which set out to standardize not just the literacy curriculum itself but also the materials and methods used to teach it. But are children living in very different economic circumstances really given equal access to literacyduring their first year in school? This article first uses insights from the work of Bourdieu on the economic, social and cultural capital or resources possessed by families and Bernstein on different curricula and pedagogic discourse to explain why some children are likely to have more success than others in making sense of classroom learning. It then goes on to argue that neither theory can fully account for children’s progress and shows how one teacher creates a particular culture with her class that defies existing paradigms of social class, capital and early school success.
Current policy, media and curriculum initiatives across Western nations are drawing literacy and literacy pedagogy toward enticingly simplistic understandings of literacy as commodity. Increasingly they focus on ‘fixing’ perceived literacy problems by assuming the primacy of early years literacy and ‘top-up’ intervention programs. In the wash-up of these narrow policies failing in their primary mission, it is important that literacy researchers and educators consider expanding notions of literacy rather than returning to ‘old’ solutions for new issues. This paper revisits a prior critique of Reading Recovery as a solution to failure to learn school-based literacy. Using data collected as part a larger study into constructions of literacy failure, we analyse the shifting ‘ways to be a reader’ required of one student during a Reading Recovery lesson. We argue that the competence required to negotiate various literacy learning contexts across one morning of learning adds to the complexity of school-based literacy learning as much as it might provide support.
Current understandings about literacy have moved away from the belief that literacy is simply a process that individuals do in their heads. These understandings do not negate the importance of the individual aspects of literacy learning, but they emphasise understandings of literacy as a social practice. In many cases, responses to early literacy intervention seem to be grounded in theories that appear out of step with current literacy research and consequent evidence that literacy is socially and culturally constructed. One such response is the Reading Recovery program based on Clay’s theory of literacy acquisition. Clay (1992) describes the program as a second chance to learn. However, others have suggested that programs like Reading Recovery may in fact work toward the marginalisation of particular groups, thereby helping to maintain the status quo along class, gender and ethnic lines. This paper allows two professionals, who unwittingly found themselves involved within the institution of Reading Recovery, to bring their insider’s knowledge to an analysis of the construction of the program. The paper interweaves this analysis with the personal narratives of the researchers as they negotiated the borders between different understandings and beliefs about literacy and literacy pedagogy.
The concept of the 'new communication landscape' (Kress, 1998) is propelling a re-examination of what is meant by literacy, and the ways in which we seek to identify and promote literacy practices in young children. This article reviews theoretical moves to destabilize the dichotomy between oracy and literacy. Challenges posed by an examination of new technologies are set against those that draw on evidence from diverse cultural and historical contexts. The telephone presents a contemporary context that has been largely overlooked in child language research - yet this medium possesses its own specific constraints and opportunities for discourse, necessitating a shift away from the 'here-and-now' characteristic of very young children's talk, to a consideration of the interlocutor's distance characteristic of literacy. An analysis of the practices of three- and four-year-old children's spontaneous telephone play demonstrates many ways in which their oral practices in this communication channel may be conceptualized within an understanding of their symbolic meaning-making practices that is related to literacy, rather than a separate domain of activity. Finally, it is proposed that Bakhtin's notion of 'speech genre' provides a particularly useful characterization of this important aspect of language development in the context of communication technology.
Geosemiotics (Scollon and Scollon, 2003) frames this analysis of play, multimodal collaboration, and peer mediation as players navigate barriers to online connectivity in a children’s social network and gaming site. A geosemiotic perspective enables examination of children’s web play as discourses in place: fluidly converging and diverging interactions among four factors: (1) social actors, (2) interaction order, (3) visual semiotics, and (4) place semiotics. The video data are excerpted from an ethnographic study of a computer club for primary school-aged children in an afterschool program serving working-class and middle-class families in a US Midwest university community. Discourses of schooling in the computer room and Webkinz complicated children’s goal of coordinated game play and mutual participation in online games. Barriers to online connection produced ruptures that foregrounded childrens’ collaborative management of time and space. This foregrounding makes typically backgrounded practices, modes, and discourses visible and available for deconstruction and critique.
This article takes a new look at issues of marginalization and equity in literacy practice by focusing on the concept of syncretism and teachers’ creation of opportunities for young children to draw on knowledge from multiple worlds as, together, they construct new texts, contexts and practices. Recognizing that the strengths and needs of too many students from minoritized communities are not being met, this piece draws attention to the importance of teachers’ appreciation of syncretism as a powerful learning process for challenging discriminatory and exclusionary practices. Drawing on theories of syncretism, and critical and culturally relevant pedagogies, the authors introduce critical syncretism as a process in which teachers and children privilege traditions and practices typically marginalized in schools for the purpose of supporting achievement and broadening worldviews. The article provides examples from two primary-grade classrooms illustrating ways that the teachers made specific moves to change classroom power structures. Whereas White, middle-class, Standard English ways of knowing had been privileged by the school district’s choice of instructional materials and recommendations for teaching practice, the teachers’ new practices opened up possibilities for syncretism by embracing knowledge, languages, traditions and practices from students’ homes, communities and African heritage, as well as from school.
Young children are surrounded by environmental print on a daily basis. Through their visual exploration of environmental print, coupled with sociocultural experiences, children gain valuable semantic and symbolic knowledge as they make sense of their world. The aim of this review is to examine the question of whether environmental print has value as a literacy learning resource, and if so, the mechanisms by which it promotes literacy development. It is shown that interactions with environmental print in the child's sociocultural context can develop their logographic reading skills. These skills, in turn, promote the development of emergent literacy skills that are the precursors to conventional reading skills. Environmental print may also be used more directly when parents and childhood educators use it to scaffold the learning of emergent literacy skills. It is recommended that parents and early childhood educators capitalize on children's natural attraction to environmental print by using it to promote their literacy development.
There is currently intense national and international interest in which particular methods of teaching reading are the most effective for early literacy acquisition. The great bulk of research work that is cited in these debates, however, focuses almost exclusively on the evaluation and comparison of particular programmes underpinned either by phonics or whole language approaches (Soler and Openshaw, 2006). Despite the fact that policy makers and literacy educators around the world are able to draw upon a common body of literacy research, there is a huge variation in the extent to which phonics is adopted as the major programme in different national contexts. This article provides a comparative study of the widely differing reception accorded the teaching of phonics in England and New Zealand respectively.
Mauritius is a multilingual island, where there is a linguistic and literacy paradox. While Mauritian Creole dominates as the spoken language of the population, English and French are the main print languages, as well as the main languages of literacy and education. In such a complex situation, preschool is an interesting terrain in which to observe children's first official introduction to the printed word. The aim of this paper is to consider the ways in which preschool teachers expose children to print and decoding skills and some of the factors shaping their choices and pedagogical practices. This paper uses data from a longitudinal case study, using an ethnographic approach, to describe and analyse the strategies used by three teachers as they expose a group of four- to five-year-olds to the printed word in a government preschool. I argue that in foreign language contexts such as Mauritius, children's exposure to the printed word is often cosmetic and educational, with emphasis on the direct teaching of some decoding skills. I also argue that the relationship that the children build with print is one of seriousness, associated with schoolwork, thus playing down the meaning-making, more playful and more entertaining functions and uses of print. This is related to local linguistic, sociocultural and educational factors.
Top-cited authors
Rosie Flewitt
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
Natalia Kucirkova
  • University of Stavanger (UiS)
David Messer
  • The Open University (UK)
Eve Gregory
  • Goldsmiths, University of London
Adriana Bus
  • University of Stavanger (UiS)