Children's Emergent Literacy: From Research to Practice

Children's Emergent Literacy: From Research to Practice

Children's Emergent Literacy: From Research to Practice

Children's Emergent Literacy: From Research to Practice


This book examines emergent literacy as the foundations for language instruction and seeks to relate the work of those doing research on literacy acquisition and those designing programs to facilitate children's literacy development. It bridges theory and practice, looking at both cognitive processes and settings in which children first experience "literacy."


Although the term emergent literacy (EL) was first used by Marie Clay (1966) in her doctoral dissertation, it has only recently come into widespread use and acceptance. Undoubtably, Teale andSulzby (1986) edited volume Emergent Literacy: Writing and Reading must be seen as a second benchmark in this evolving field. Emergent Literacy provides a refreshing change from decades of work on children's literacy that fragmented the process into myriad skills and denigrated the importance of out-of-school literacy experiences and the value of real literature and real writing.

The contributions in this book aim to enrich the field but also sharpen its focus. That is, all the chapters in the first section part company to some extent with prevailing orthodoxy. Data are presented that suggest a degree of qualification may be needed for some of the EL theorists' bolder claims -- Kenneth Goodman's that "learning to read is natural in a literate society" (cited in Teale &Sulzby 1986, xvii), for example.

On the contrary, we argue that even in a literate society, it may not be natural or easy for children to become literate in the conventional sense. Hence, the second part of this book reviews a variety of intervention strategies aimed at children who are at risk. These strategies are all informed by recent research and theory in EL. Some of these strategies focus on the pivotal role of parents, others focus on children's fantasy play, and still others examine the teacher's role.

Our aim, then, is to foster a reciprocal relationship between basic research on the social, cultural, and cognitive roots of literacy and applied research on programs that attempt to create or recreate envi-

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