Literacies across Media: Playing the Text

Literacies across Media: Playing the Text

Literacies across Media: Playing the Text

Literacies across Media: Playing the Text


The contemporary young reader learns from a very early age to read and interpret through a broad range of media. Literacies Across Mediaexplores how a group of boys and girls, aged from ten to fourteen, make sense of narratives in a variety of formats, including print, electronic book, video, DVD, computer game and CD-ROM. This book records these young people over a period of eighteen months as they read, view and play different texts, demonstrating variations and consistencies of interpretative behaviour across different media.

Margaret Mackey analyses how the activities of reading, viewing and playing intertwine and affect each other's development. Her in-depth research shows young readers developing strategies for interpreting narratives through encounters with a diverse range of texts and media. The study breaks new ground in its illustration and exploration of the impact of cross-media fertilisation on how young readers come to an understanding of how to make sense of stories.

Literacies Across Mediaoffers both a vivid account of a group of young readers coming to terms with texts and a radical perspective on the growth of a generation of young readers. It is thought-provoking, fascinating and highly informative reading not only for theoreticians interested in the reading process, but also teachers, librarians, parents and anybody involved with young people and their texts.


This book reports on a longitudinal study of young people and their media use that took place between 1997 and 1999. It is a numerical accident that the project was completed at the end of the last century. No doubt the quirks of our psychological response to numbers makes these dates seem longer ago than they truly are. But there is no denying that the seven years that have elapsed since the completion of the last session have seen huge technological and cultural developments in a very short period of time.

It has not been possible to return to the participants of the study described in this book and gain updated insight into their media tastes and behaviours. As a result, in this new edition I have chosen not to re-open the main sections of the chapters, which remain as written in the 2002 edition (though Chapter 10 of the original version has been deleted to make room for new material). in this respect, the new edition presents the complexities of a longitudinal case study in unchanged form.

We are all aware, however, that there has been no shortage of more general evidence of rapid social, cultural and technological change. in this new edition I include samples of that evidence in separate afterwords appended to the end of each chapter. Although the details of our communicative lives are changing, I stand by the main conclusions of the original study; as an investigation of young people in times of cultural and technological flux, finding ways to interpret new media experiences, it still speaks to some of the main challenges of our times.

I was aware at the start of the project, as I collected diaries of daily media use from the participants, that I was gathering what might very soon seem like historical material. I truly had no idea just how much would change so quickly. a brief overview of some of the prominent changes over the past seven years is instructive. Napster has risen, fallen and mutated; DVDs have become ubiquitous; the electronic book has faded from the marketplace, though it may yet rise again; the Internet is a significant component of daily culture; the mobile phone offers more and more new features at remarkably brief intervals; and chatting, blogging, texting, and online posting of digital photographs and videos have all become normal and unremarkable forms of communication.

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