Play and Literacy in Early Childhood: Research from Multiple Perspectives

Play and Literacy in Early Childhood: Research from Multiple Perspectives

Play and Literacy in Early Childhood: Research from Multiple Perspectives

Play and Literacy in Early Childhood: Research from Multiple Perspectives

Synopsis

"This volume brings together studies, research syntheses, and critical commentaries that examine play-literacy relationships from cognitive, ecological, and cultural perspectives. The cognitive view focuses on mental processes that appear to link play and literacy activities; the ecological stance examines opportunities to engage in literacy-related play in specific environments; the social-cultural position stresses the interface between the literacy and play cultures of home, community, and the school. Examining play from these diverse perspectives provides a multidimensional view that deepens understanding and opens up new avenues for research and educational practice." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Reading, it could be said, in a formulation of Gregory Bateson's, is like life itself, a game whose purpose is to discover the rules but in a process by which the rules perpetually change and always remain undiscoverable.

-- Iser, 1991, p. 259

An invitation from the editors to contribute a foreword to this collection of important studies by distinguished scholars confers a singular, daunting, honor on the guest writer before she has read a single page. Having reached the afterword, she finds it even more difficult to acknowledge the debt of pleasure and profit that has accrued throughout the reading. Happily, the book has its own introduction to the perspectives and professional attachments of the contributions in their academic disciplines related to the study of play and literacy. The significance of the presented evidence is clear throughout. What the author of the foreword can uniquely acclaim is the editorial skill that has brought together a series of theorized investigations and made of the published volume something much more important than a conventional assemblage of chapters.

Certain features distinguish this book as a collaborative text-in-context. Chapters with more than one author reach deeply into continuous reflection and discussion. Specular glimpses of research practices over a range of cultures include children playing in Iceland, and in an English classroom transformed into a garage. Each of the three main parts of the text includes a review by a commensal "critical friend" or two, who open out the implications of the findings in the core collection. The research objectives have a history in early studies, now rethought and revised. Thus, in the making, the book has become a rich symposium in the literate form that has served learning for at least a millennium.

As readers focus on the detail of styles and findings in this research, they are also enabled to keep in mind the more general complexities and paradoxes that link literacy and play. Investigations that depend on sophisticated means for collecting data expect their readers to look at the assumptions underlying the hypotheses. There is scope here for this to be carefully done. If, however, readers also consider, as I am bound to do, the world outside the book where the results of these investigations will meet educational professes and practices, then it may be helpful, both locally and more generally, to survey some prevailing conditions in literacy teaching and learning that this work may encounter.

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