Many Pathways to Literacy: Young Children Learning with Siblings, Grandparents, Peers, and Communities

Many Pathways to Literacy: Young Children Learning with Siblings, Grandparents, Peers, and Communities

Many Pathways to Literacy: Young Children Learning with Siblings, Grandparents, Peers, and Communities

Many Pathways to Literacy: Young Children Learning with Siblings, Grandparents, Peers, and Communities

Synopsis

This unique and visionary text is a compilation of fascinating studies conducted in a variety of cross-cultural settings where children learn language and literacy with siblings, grandparents, peers and community members. Focusing on the knowledge and skills of children often invisible to educators, these illuminating studies highlight how children skilfully draw from their varied cultural and linguistic worlds to make sense of new experiences. The vastly experienced team of contributors provide powerful demonstrations of the generative activity of young children and their mediating partners - family members, peers, and community members - as they syncretise languages, literacies and cultural practices from varied contexts. Through studies grounded in home, school, community school, nursery and church settings, we see how children create for themselves radical forms of teaching and learning in ways that are not typically recognised, understood or valued in schools. This book will be invaluable reading for teachers, teacher educators, researchers and policy-makers who seek to understand the many pathways to literacy and use that knowledge to affect real change in schools.

Excerpt

Eve Gregory, Susi Long and Dinah Volk

This book originates in the stories exchanged between Early Years educators in Britain and Early Childhood educators in the US during the last decade of the twentieth century about children whose learning challenged commonly held expectations. In other words, these were children who defied existing paradigms of what counted as successful learning in school or whose accomplishments contradicted the deficit perspective that many applied to them. Children, for example, like 5-year-old Tony, who puzzled his teacher when he did not flourish in his relaxed, play-oriented classroom in a small town in England, preferring instead the structured learning and repetition of ideograms in his Saturday Mandarin class. Or Samina and Shahina, also 5, whose ability to draw sophisticated comparisons between English and Bengali grammar and lexis before they could understand the content of their book made traditional early literacy assessment, based on talking about texts, meaningless. Or 5-year-old Mónica, who was Puerto Rican, for whom any judgement on parental involvement would exclude the complex network of family and community 'teachers' in her literacy life. Or Nelson, also 5 and Puerto Rican, whose introduction to literacy was through family Bible readings and reading with his siblings rather than one-on-one interactions with his mother and picture books. Or 4-year-old Samia, whose skill in translating from English into Urdu for her 2-year-old brother at home was disguised by her silence in class. These children were typical of many who puzzled teachers in both the US and Britain since they did not fit into accepted frames of what early literacy teaching and learning in school were all about.

Paradigms do not shift easily or quickly. Our stories built on those of others-William Labov, Shirley Brice Heath, Denny Taylor, Luis Moll, Lisa Delpit, Gloria Ladson-Billings and Sonia Nieto, among others-who for years have argued for the value of home and community languages and literacies. Like their work, our stories were sometimes met with consternation by educators who worked with young children, since they seemed to undermine commonly accepted stages of early literacy learning as well as question the popular vision of parental involvement in literacy activities embodied in the bedtime story. Other educators, unsure how to translate our stories into practice, often focused on superficial features of children's cultures. Still others explained that the children they taught

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