Portraits of Literacy across Families, Communities, and Schools: Intersections and Tensions

Portraits of Literacy across Families, Communities, and Schools: Intersections and Tensions

Portraits of Literacy across Families, Communities, and Schools: Intersections and Tensions

Portraits of Literacy across Families, Communities, and Schools: Intersections and Tensions


Designed to stimulate debate and critical thinking and to draw readers' attention to the ideological nature of literacy education across a broad range of literacy contexts, this book crosses traditional boundaries between the study of family, community, and school literacies to offer a unique global perspective on multiple literacies, from theory to case studies of various settings. These examples suggest ways that literacy practices should be created by simultaneously shaping relationships and identity, and by privileging particular literacy practices in particular situations. The dialogue within the book among chapter authors writing across traditionally distinct fields highlights the interconnections among diverse literacy sites and stimulates the pursuit of a more integrated and interdisciplinary approach to literacy education. The critical and dialogic approach serves to challenge and extend many conventional notions surrounding literacy education in communities, schools, and families.

Portraits of Literacy Across Families, Communities, and Schools: Intersections and Tensions is particularly relevant for scholars and students in the area of literacy, broadly speaking, including family literacy, community literacy, adult literacy, critical language studies, multiliteracies, youth literacy, English as a second language, language and social policy, and global literacy. Additionally, the inclusion of studies derived from a variety of research methods and designs makes this is a useful text in research methodology courses that aim to present and analyze real-life examples of literacy research designs and methods.


Victoria Purcell-Gates University of British Columbia

Finally, we are beginning to map the terrain of literacy development and lit eracy practice! We researchers are slowly filling in the picture of what liter acy is, how development occurs, what the relationships are among different instructional systems dedicated to teaching literacy skills, and the myriad ways in which these skills are put into practice. This edited volume provides multiple portraits of this complex picture and thus contributes significandy to the scientific and analytic understanding of literacy—a process and prod uct so crucial to lives, economies, governments, and well-being of people the world over.

Perhaps to some of us, it seems a simplistic truism that to understand lit eracy development, you must understand literacy itself. And to understand literacy, it seems (again, simplistically obvious) you need to understand how, where, and why it is practiced. However, until recendy, literacy re search, policy, and funding focused myopically on literacy instruction alone. This resulted in a system of thought and a system of instructional pol icy that is closed, with no feedback beyond itself. Why this has remained the scenario is truly a mystery. Looking at any other practice and instruction in that practice, one can readily see the folly of designing instruction without knowing how that instruction is paying off in practice or, even more insidi ous, the very nature of the practice itself. Can you imagine the instructional staff of a football team, for example, teaching the rudiments of football and never really knowing what an actual game looks like? Never watching films of different games? What about automobile driving instructions? With little . . .

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