The SAGE Handbook of Early Childhood Literacy


Edited by: Joanne Larson & Jackie Marsh

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  • Part 1: Perspectives on Early Childhood Literacy

    Part 2: Early Childhood Literacy in Families, Communities, and Cultures across Media and Modes

    Part 3: Early Moves in Literacy

    Part 4: Literacy in Preschool Settings and Schools

    Part 5: Researching Early Childhood Literacy

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    Joanne Larson and Jackie Marsh wish to thank the editorial staff at SAGE for all their wonderful work on this second edition. We also express our gratitude to the chapter authors, old and new, who put together important and comprehensive pieces for the handbook and members of the International Advisory Board, who reviewed the chapters. Joanne Larson thanks her husband Morris, and her children Anna, Eric, and Marcus for always being there. Jackie Marsh would also like to thank her partner, Julie, and daughter, Angela, for their continuing support. Finally, we would like to acknowledge the contribution Nigel Hall made to the first edition of this book and we hope that he likes what we have done in this second edition.

    International Advisory Board

    Associate Professor Ros Fisher, Exeter University, UK

    Associate Professor Beverly Fluckiger, Griffith University, Australia

    Professor Pauline Harris, University of South Australia, Australia

    Associate Professor Dawnene Hassett, University of Wisconsin–Madison, USA

    Dr Rachael Levy, University of Sheffield, UK

    Dr Diane Mavers, Institute of Education, University of London, UK

    Associate Professor Sue Saltmarsh, Australian Catholic University (Sydney Campus), Australia

    Professor Vivian Vasquez, American University, USA

    Professor Dinah Volk, Cleveland State University, USA

    Notes on Contributors

    Petula Bhojwani works as an independent literacy consultant and specialises in raising boys’ attainment. She has worked across the East and West Midlands, UK as a primary school literacy coordinator, regional advisor, consultant for Nottinghamshire local authority and senior lecturer in Primary Education at Birmingham City University. Her research interests are in multimodal literacies with particular attention to boys and Looked-after Children.

    David Bloome is College of Education and Human Ecology (EHE) Distinguished Professor of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology, USA. Bloome's research focuses on how people use spoken and written language for learning in classroom and non-classroom settings, and how people use language to create social relationships, to construct knowledge, and to create communities and shared histories and futures. Bloome's research focuses on children in preschool, elementary school, middle childhood, and early adolescence. Bloome's current scholarship focuses on: the social construction of intertextuality as part of the reading, writing, and learning processes; discourse analysis as a means for understanding reading, writing, and literacy events; spoken and written narrative development among young children as a foundation for learning and literacy development; and students as researchers and ethnographers of their own communities. He is the director of the Center for Video Ethnography and Discourse Analysis and the Columbus Area Writing Project.

    Greg Brooks, PhD, is Emeritus Professor of Education, University of Sheffield, UK, and in 2011–12 was a member of the European Union High-Level Group of Experts. He has been engaged in educational research virtually full-time since 1977, and has published widely on the initial teaching of reading and spelling, phonics, family literacy, the assessment of schoolchildren's speaking and listening skills, intervention schemes for children and young people with poor literacy, adult literacy, and trends over time in the literacy levels of children and adults. In 1994–96 he directed the first evaluation of family literacy programmes in Britain; he subsequently directed five further evaluations in the field, and in 2008–09 took part in a national evaluation of family literacy programmes in England.

    Cathy Burnett Cathy Burnett is Reader in the Department of Teacher Education at Sheffield Hallam University, UK, where she leads the Language and Literacy Research and Scholarship Group and co-leads the Teacher Education Research and Scholarship Group. Her research focuses on relationships between literacies within and beyond formal educational contexts, with a particular focus on the social practices emerging around new technologies in classrooms. She is interested in how children negotiate meaning through and around digital texts, using theories of space to explore meaning-making across on/offline contexts. Her published work has also explored the continuities and discontinuities between preservice teachers’ literacy practices in different domains of their lives and considered the barriers and possibilities that teachers associate with using new texts in schools. She is co-editor of the United Kingdom Literacy Association journal, Literacy.

    Victoria Carrington is a Professor of Education in the School of Education and Lifelong Learning at the University of East Anglia (UEA), UK. Before joining UEA, she held a Research South Australia (SA) Chair and was the Interim Director of the Hawke Research Institute at the University of South Australia. She has held posts at the University of Plymouth where she was Associate Dean for Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Education, the University of Queensland and the University of Tasmania. She is an editor of the international journal Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education and sits on the editorial boards of a number of journals. She researches and writes extensively on the New Literacy Studies, with a particular interest in the impact of digital media on the production and distribution of text.

    Gerald Coles is a full-time researcher, writer, and lecturer on literacy, learning and psychology. He is the author of The Learning Mystique: a Critical Look at ‘Learning Disabilities’, Reading Lessons: the Debate over Literacy, Misreading Reading: the Bad Science that Hurts Children, and Reading the Naked Truth: Literacy, Legislation, and Lies, as well as numerous articles in education, psychology and psychiatry journals. Before devoting himself to full-time research and writing, he was on the faculties of the Department of Psychiatry at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and the Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the University of Rochester, USA.

    Barbara Comber is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at Queensland University of Technology, Australia. She is particularly interested in literacy education and social justice. She has conducted longitudinal ethnographic studies and collaborative action research with teachers working in high-poverty and culturally diverse communities examining the kinds of teaching that make a difference to young people's learning trajectories. She recently undertook an institutional ethnography on mandated literacy assessment and the reorganisation of teachers’ work. Her current projects explore the affordances of place-based pedagogies for the development of critical and creative literacies and how teacher innovation can be sustained in high-poverty school communities.

    Catherine Compton-Lilly is an Associate Professor in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin Madison, USA. She is the author of Reading Families: The Literate Lives of Urban Children (Teachers College Press, 2003), Confronting Racism, Poverty and Power (Heinemann, 2004), Rereading Families (Teachers College Press, 2007), Reading Time (Teachers College Press, 2012), the editor of Breaking the Silence (International Reading Association, 2009), and co-editor of Bedtime Stories and Book Reports: Complexities, Concerns, and Considerations in Fostering Parent Involvement and Family Literacy (Teachers College Press, 2010). Dr Compton-Lilly has authored articles in many literacy journals. Dr Compton-Lilly engages in longitudinal research projects that last over long periods of time. In her most recent study, she followed a group of eight inner-city students from grade 1 through grade 11. Her interests include examining how time operates as a contextual factor in children's lives as they progress through school.

    Caitlin McMunn Dooley is an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education and Director of the Doctoral Program in Early Childhood and Elementary Education at Georgia State University, USA. Her research investigates early emergent comprehension, literacy instruction and testing in elementary grades, and teacher development. Her research has been published by the International Reading Association, Literacy Research Association, and National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), among others. Dooley has led and participated in funded research totaling more than $16.2 million. She serves as co-editor for NCTE's premier elementary-focused journal Language Arts (2011–2016). Dooley has received several awards, including the 2008 Jerry Johns Promising Researcher Award by the Association for Literacy Educators and Researchers. In addition to having taught elementary grades, Dooley served as a consultant to the Texas Educational Agency Student Assessment Division, the national non-profit Children's Literacy Initiative, and many urban schools and districts. Dooley earned her doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin and her undergraduate and master degrees from the University of Virginia.

    Anne Haas Dyson is a former teacher of young children and, currently, a Professor of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. Previously she was on the faculty of the University of Georgia, Michigan State University, and the University of California, Berkeley, where she was a recipient of the campus Distinguished Teaching Award. She studies the childhood cultures and literacy learning of young schoolchildren. Among her publications are Social Worlds of Children Learning to Write in an Urban Primary School, which was awarded NCTE's David Russell Award for Distinguished Research, Writing Superheroes, and The Brothers and Sisters Learn to Write: Popular Literacies in Childhood and School Cultures. She recently co-authored two books with Celia Genishi, On the Case, on interpretive case study methods, and Children, Language, and Literacy: Diverse Learners in Diverse Times.

    Rosie Flewitt is based in the Open University Centre for Research in Education and Education Technology (CREET), UK, where she researches and lectures in multimodal communication and young children's early experiences of literacy with print and digital technologies. She has contributed to undergraduate and postgraduate courses on Children's Literature, Childhood, Children's Perspectives in Research, and Language, Literacy and Learning in the Contemporary World. Recent research includes leading the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) project Multimodal Literacies in the Early Years(RES-000-22-2451), and investigating the potential of iPads to enhance literacy learning and story-telling in early, primary and special education. Rosie is committed to inclusive education and has conducted two linked projects into children and parents’ experiences of combining special educational services with mainstream provision.

    Julia Gillen is Senior Lecturer in Digital Literacies in the Literacy Research Centre, Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University, UK. Her work is particularly concerned with learning and literacy practices of children and young people across informal and formal settings. Dr Gillen was Principal Investigator of the ESRC seminar series Children's and Young People's Digital Literacies in Virtual Online Spaces (RES-451-26-0731) in 2009–2010. She recently co-edited Virtual Literacies: Interactive Spaces for Children and Young People (with Merchant, Marsh and Davies; Routledge, 2012), Researching Learning in Virtual Worlds (with Peachey, Livingstone and Robbins; Springer, 2010) and International Perspectives on Early Childhood Research: A Day in the Life (with Cameron; Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). She is the author of The Language of Children (Routledge, 2003) and a co-editor of the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy.

    Usha Goswami is Professor of Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge, UK. She is also Director of the Centre for Neuroscience in Education. She was previously Professor of Cognitive Developmental Psychology at the Institute of Child Health, University College London (1997–2003), and before that, University Lecturer in Experimental Psychology at the University of Cambridge (1990–1997). She received her PhD from the University of Oxford in 1987; her topic was reading and spelling by analogy. Her current research examines relations between phonology and reading; a major focus of the research is the brain basis of dyslexia. She has received a number of career awards, including the British Psychology Society's Spearman Medal (1992) and President's Award (2011), the Norman Geschwind-Rodin Prize for Dyslexia research, and Fellowships from the National Academy of Education (USA), the Leverhulme Trust, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany).

    Beth Graue is Sorenson Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and Associate Director of Faculty, Staff and Graduate Development at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, USA. A former kindergarten teacher, her research interests include kindergarten policy and practice, teacher's preparation for home–school relations, and qualitative research methods. A growing interest is public pre-kindergarten and she is studying a professional development programme designed to increase developmentally and culturally responsive practice for early mathematics.

    Eve Gregory is Professor of Language and Culture and Head of the Centre for Language, Culture and Learning at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK, where she works mainly with students on MA and Doctoral degrees. Her most recent book is Learning to Read in a New Language: Making Sense of Words and Worlds (2008) published by SAGE. She has directed or co-directed a number of ESRC-funded projects on children's out-of-school learning and her current research is: ‘Becoming literate in faith settings: Language and literacy learning in the lives of new Londoners’ (2009–2013). This project examines the language and literacy learning through faith of young children of Bangladeshi Muslim, Ghanaian Pentecostal, Polish Catholic, and Tamil Hindu origin.

    Kris D. Gutiérrez is Professor of Literacy and Learning Sciences and holds the Inaugural Provost's Chair at the University of Colorado, Boulder, USA. She is also Professor Emerita of Social Research Methodology in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she also served as Director of the Education Studies Minor and Director of the Center for the Study of Urban Literacies. Gutiérrez is the current President and a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). She is also a Fellow at the National Conference on Research on Language and Literacy, and the National Education Policy Center. Her research examines learning in designed learning environments, with particular attention to students from non-dominant communities and English Learners. Her work on Third Spaces examines the affordances of syncretic approaches to literacy learning and re-mediation of functional systems of learning. Professor Gutiérrez's research has been published widely in premier academic journals and she is a co-editor of Learning and Expanding with Activity Theory. Additionally, Professor Gutiérrez has written a column for the Los Angeles Times’ Reading Page. Gutiérrez was recently elected to the National Academy of Education and nominated by President Obama to be a member of the National Board for the Institute of Education Sciences. She has received numerous awards, including the 2010 AERA Hispanic Research in Elementary, Secondary, or Postsecondary Education Award and the 2010 Inaugural Award for Innovations in Research on Diversity in Teacher Education, Division K (AERA) and was the 2010 Osher Fellow at the Exploratorium Museum of Science. Previously, Gutiérrez received the AERA Distinguished Scholar Award 2007, was the 2005 recipient of the AERA Division C Sylvia Scribner Award for influencing the field of learning and instruction, and was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences 2006–2007.

    Kathy Hall is Professsor of Education and Head of School at University College Cork. She is currently working on a co-authored book with Alicia Curtin and Vanessa Rutherford entitled Networks of the Mind: A Critical Neurocultural Perspective on Learning to be published by Routledge and is co-editor with Teresa Cremin, Barbara Comber and Luis Moll for International Handbook of Research in Children's Literacy, Learning and Culture to be published by Wiley-Blackwell. She is PI for a research project on inclusion funded by the Irish Research Council. She is supervising a range of doctoral students who are drawing on various sociocultural themes to understand such areas as literacy improvement, leadership, school choice, teacher identities, curriculum development, and transitions.

    Nigel Hall is Emeritus Professor of Literacy Education, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. Nigel Hall has interests in young children's developing knowledge of language and literacy, particularly with respect to punctuation, play and literacy, and writing. He has published extensively in all the above areas. He is also interested in literacy as a social practice, both currently and historically, and how this notion relates to primary school literacy education. He was the Director of the Punctuation Project which, supported by three ESRC awards, sought to understand how children make sense of punctuation and how teachers might best teach it. A more recent specialist interest has been in the field of child language brokering. He headed an ESRC seminar series on the topic Children and Adolescents as Language Brokers. He was a co-founder and joint-editor of the international research journal, the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy.

    Peter Hannon is an Emeritus Professor in the School of Education at the University of Sheffield, UK. His main research and teaching activity is in the areas of literacy and early childhood education. He has directed projects in parental involvement in the teaching of literacy in the early school years, family literacy, preschool literacy development and in community-focused programmes for children and adults. He is the author of Literacy, Home and School (1995) and Reflecting on Literacy in Education (2000).

    Susan M. Hildenbrand, EdD, has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Undergraduate Inclusive Education at St John Fisher College, New York, USA, for the past 6 years, teaching courses on the special education process, inclusive practices, and family/school partnerships. Before working in higher education preparing preservice teachers for inclusive settings, she taught elementary special education for 10 years. Her research interests include positive classroom management strategies and co-teaching in the inclusive classroom. She lives with her husband and two children in Webster, NewYork.

    Huili Hong is Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at East Tennessee State University Claudius G. Clemmer College of Education. Hong's programme of research is located in the area of second language learning with an emphasis on the literacy, biliteracy (or multiliteracy) development of young children. Hong's research focuses on young English language learners’ literacy practices within classroom learning environments and how teachers can facilitate growth in literacy and biliteracy development, while also facilitating their academic learning and social identities that respect their current community and their social, cultural roots. Hong's current scholarship focuses on: young children's writing as an intertextual practice to construct various learning in classroom; children's speech play and playful learning, the aesthetic canon in children's playful writing; social and discursive construction of authorship among young writers; and English language learners’ academic socialization.

    Cushla Kapitzke is an Associate Professor in the School of Cultural and Language Studies in Education, Queensland University of Technology, Australia. Her early work as a critical literacy educator focused on the literacies afforded by new communications technologies. More recent research interests are on the sociology and politics of education generally. This work produced the edited books, Global Knowledge Cultures (2007), with Michael A. Peters (UIUC) and Libr@ries: Changing Information Space and Practice (Erlbaum, 2006) with Professor Bertram C. Bruce (UIUC). Cushla has published articles in Educational Theory, Educational Philosophy and Theory, Teachers College Record, and Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy.

    Laurie Katz is Associate Professor in Early Childhood Education in the School of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University in Columbus, USA. Her research explores how the early childhood curriculum and instruction can be conceptualized to incorporate the broad diversity of children from birth to 9 years of age and their families, including children from linguistic-minority communities and children with certified disabilities. Her research topics include: the oral and written narratives of young African American children in classroom and home settings; the Students’ Right to their Own Language resolution and its implementation in early childhood classrooms; and strengthening relationships between schools and families by identifying and integrating family strengths and cultural/linguistic backgrounds in the classroom.

    Eithne Kennedy is a teacher educator at St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra, Dublin, where she teaches on a range of literacy courses at under-graduate and post-graduate level. Prior to joining the college faculty, she was a classroom teacher for many years in Dublin and the USA. Her doctoral research, which focused on raising literacy achievement in disadvantaged schools was awarded the International Reading Association's Outstanding Dissertation Award in 2010. As the director of the Write to Read research initiative, a St. Patrick's College, School and Community Literacy project, she works collaboratively with schools and communities to design and implement research-based approaches to literacy instruction aimed at raising achievement in ways that motivate and engage children as readers, writers and thinkers. She has authored and co-authored several publications in the field including policy papers on literacy, journal articles (e.g. The Reading Teacher, RRQ) and her first book: Raising Literacy Achievement in High-Poverty Schools: An Evidence-Based Approach will be published by Routledge in 2012.

    Charmian Kenner is Lecturer in Educational Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK. Her research focuses on bilingualism, literacy and family learning. She has led ESRC-funded studies at Goldsmiths on early biliteracy, intergenerational learning between young children and grandparents, and bilingual learning. She recently directed a research project funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, developing approaches to bilingual learning through partnerships between primary teachers and community language teachers. Charmian also directed the ESRC seminar series on Complementary Schooling (2009–2010). Her books include Home Pages: Literacy Links for Bilingual Children (Trentham, 2000) and Becoming Biliterate: Young Children Learning Different Writing Systems (Trentham, 2004). A previous ESRC seminar series led by Charmian on Multilingual Europe (2003–2005) resulted in an ongoing international network of researchers and the book Multilingual Europe: Diversity and Learning (Trentham, 2008). Publications and teaching resources developed by Charmian and colleagues at Goldsmiths can be found at:

    Michele Knobel is Professor of Education at Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA. She has worked in teacher education in Australia, Mexico, Canada and the USA. Her research examines new literacy practices across a broad range of contexts. She is author, with Colin Lankshear, of New literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning (3rd edn). They have also edited DIY Media: Creating, Sharing and Learning with New Technologies and A New Literacies Sampler and Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies and Practices.

    Gunther Kress is Professor of Semiotics and Education at the Institute of Education, University of London, UK. His interests are in the ongoing development of Social Semiotic theory so as to understand principles of representation, meaning making and communication in contemporary social environments. The frame of application is multimodal representation and communication, with its focus on resources and forms of communication in all modes, including those of speech and writing. Conditions and environments for ‘learning’ in the contemporary period is one special focus of application. Some books relevant to chapter 19 are Learning to Write (1982/1994); Social Semiotics (1988, with R. Hodge); Before Writing: Rethinking the Paths to Literacy (1996); Reading Images: the Grammar of Graphic Design (1996/2006, with T. van Leeuwen); Multimodal Discourse: the Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication (2002, with T. van Leeuwen); Literacy in the New Media Age (2003); and Multimodality. A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication (2010).

    Lesley Lancaster is Reader in Education in the Education and Social Research Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. Her current research interests include children's early symbolic learning, writing in early childhood, distributed cognition, and multimodal analysis, with recent publications and conference papers reflecting these interests. She is on the editorial board of the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, was a member of the UK Early Language and Communication Project, and Director of the ESRC-funded project Grammaticisation in Early Mark Making, and is currently writing a book, to be published by Routledge, about this study. She teaches in the field of Applied Linguistics at undergraduate and doctoral levels, and in the past she has worked as a member of a literacy advisory team, as a researcher at the National Foundation for Educational Research, and as a teacher.

    Colin Lankshear has a PhD in philosophy of education and has worked in a range of academic positions in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the USA and Mexico. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Education at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, and Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Canada. His research interest is in sociocultural studies of literacy practices and new technologies. He is joint author, with Michele Knobel, of The Handbook for Teacher Research and Literacies: Social Culture and Historical Perspectives.

    Joanne Larson (PhD, University of California, Los Angeles) is the Michael W. Scandling Professor of Education at the University of Rochester's Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development, USA, and Chair of the Teaching and Curriculum Program. Her research examines how language and literacy practices mediate social and power relations in literacy events in schools and communities. She is the editor of Literacyas Snake Oil: Beyond the Quick Fix (2nd edn, Lang, 2007) and coauthor of Making Literacy Real: Theories and Practices in Learning and Teaching (SAGE, 2005). Larson's journal publications include research articles in Anthropology and Education Quarterly, Harvard Education Review, Research in the Teaching of English, Written Communication, Linguistics and Education, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, and Discourse and Society.

    Allan Luke is Professor, Faculty of Education, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. He is currently completing a 4-year longitudinal study of Indigenous school leadership and reform.

    Margaret Mackey is a Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta, Canada. She teaches courses on reading and on multimedia literacies, as well as children's and young adult literature. She has published widely on the subject of young people's evolving literacies; her most recent book is Narrative Pleasures in Young Adult Novels, Films, and Video Games (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). Currently she is working on a project to reassemble and investigate as large a collection as possible of the materials with which she became literate herself: picturebooks, novels, school textbooks, magazines, radio and television programmes, church and Sunday-school materials, museum exhibits, recorded music and audio books, and much more. She is experimenting with new digital tools for analysis and dissemination of this project

    Jackie Marsh is Professor of Education at the University of Sheffield, UK. Her research focuses on the role and nature of popular culture, media and new technologies in young children's literacy development. She has conducted projects that have explored children's access to new technologies and their emergent digital literacy skills, knowledge and understanding. She has also undertaken projects in early-years settings and primary schools focused on the development of appropriate curriculum and pedagogy for the digital age. She has published widely in the field and books include: Children, Media and Playground Cultures: Ethnographic Studies of School Playtimes (with Willetts, Richards, Burn, and Bishop, Palgrave, in press) Children's Virtual Play Worlds: Culture, Learning and Participation (edited with Burke, Peter Lang, in press) and Virtual Literacies: Interactive Spaces for Children and Young People (edited with Merchant, Gillen, and Davies, Routledge, in press). Jackie is a co-editor of the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy.

    Miriam Martinez is a Professor at the University of Texas in San Antonio, USA. She received her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin and is a specialist in children's literature, literary response, and integration of literature into literacy programmes. She has combined her interests in these areas in her research, publications, and teaching. Her most recent publications have included reviews of research on children's and adolescents’ responses to literature and their construction of meaning in literary texts. She is a co-author of Children's Books in Children's Hands, a textbook in its fourth edition. She has worked extensively with schools conducting workshops on ways of promoting literature discussion in the classroom. In 2006 she was the recipient of the Arbuthnot Award from the International Reading Association for outstanding university teacher of children's and young adults’ literature. She is co-editor of the Journal of Children's Literature.

    Patricia May-Woods is a doctoral student at the College of Education and Human Ecology in the School of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University, USA. May-Woods’ research concerns early language and literacy development in young children, narrative inquiry, storytelling, and preschool classroom discourse. May-Woods is an Early Childhood Development faculty member at Columbus State Community College, and Early Language and Literacy Specialist for the Ohio Department of Education, Office of Early Learning and School Readiness, State Support Team. She is actively involved in local and statewide early learning projects aiming to better the quality of early educational experiences for young children. May-Woods received the Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children Teacher of Teachers Award in 2008, and was awarded the 2011 Columbus Association for the Education of Young Children (AEYC) Teacher Leadership Award.

    Guy Merchant is Professor of Literacy in Education and research co-ordinator in the Department of Teacher Education at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. He has published widely on digital literacy and is particularly interested in the inter-relations between children and young people, new technology and literacy. He is research convenor for the United Kingdom Literacy Association and a member of the Association's Executive Committee and National Council. He recently co-directed the Economic and Social Research Council-funded seminar series Children and Young People's Digital Literacies in Virtual Online Spaces and is lead editor of the book Virtual Literacies (2012) that resulted from that work. He is a founding editor of the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, and a member of the Editorial Board of Literacy. He is also active in literacy education and professional work, including writing curriculum materials and professional publications.

    Elaine Millard is a visiting Research Professor at Birmingham City University, UK. From 1989–2005 she was a senior lecturer in education at the University of Sheffield, UK and an originator of its influential Masters Degree in Literacy. Elaine is Past Chair of the National Association for the Teaching of English and former editor of its research journal, English in Education. She has published widely in the fields of literacy and gender, creative approaches to teaching new literacies and curriculum change. Her most influential publications are Differently Literate; Literacy and Popular Culture (with Jackie Marsh) and Remaking the Curriculum (with Martin Fautley and Richard Hatcher).

    Martha Mock, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Rochester, USA, with dual appointments in the Warner Graduate School of Education and the Department of Pediatrics at Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities. She has worked with and been an advocate with people with disabilities and their families for over 20 years in educational and community-based settings. She is a former special education preschool teacher and holds her Doctor of Philosophy degree in Special Education from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

    Sharon Murphy is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at York University in Toronto, Canada. Sharon taught special education in Newfoundland and later was employed in conducting educational assessments by the Newfoundland Department of Education's Learning Centre. In 1988, Sharon moved to York University where she has served as Director of the Graduate Program in the Faculty of Education, as well as Associate Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Sharon has written on assessment and literacy in a variety of venues and served a term as co-editor of Language Arts, a journal of the National Council of Teachers of English. She is currently working on, among other projects, an elaboration of the conceptualization of epistemic responsibility in assessment.

    Sue Nichols is a Senior Lecturer in Literacy Education at the University of South Australia and a member of the Centre for Educational Research. Her research on learning has crossed diverse spaces and includes homes, schools, libraries, churches and universities. An ethnographic researcher, she has increasingly employed theories of space, mobility and networking, beginning with her chapter in Travel Notes from the New Literacy Studies (2006) which traced a discourse on thinking across corporate and classroom sites. She co-edited a special issue on geosemiotics in the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy (2011) and has co-authored a book, Resourcing Early Learners: New Players, New Networks (Routledge, 2012).

    Helen Nixon is Associate Professor of Education in the Children and Youth Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. She has published widely in the fields of English and literacy education and cultural studies and education and co-edited a special issue on geosemiotics in the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy (2011). Current projects funded by the Australian Research Council focus on how mandated literacy assessment changes teachers’ work and how teachers negotiate the changing literacy demands of schooling in the middle years.

    Marjorie Faulstich Orellana is a Professor in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA, USA, where she also serves as the Director of Faculty for the Teacher Education Program and co-director of the Migration Studies Group. Her interdisciplinary research examines the work that the children of immigrants do as language and culture brokers for their families, and the linguistic and literate competencies that such work cultivates. She is the author of Translating Childhoods: Immigrant Youth, Language and Culture, as well as articles in such journals as Harvard Educational Review, Reading Research Quarterly, Research in the Teaching of English, Language Arts, Anthropology and Education Quarterly, American Anthropologist, and Social Problems. She was a bilingual classroom teacher in Los Angeles from 1983 to 1993 and draws connections from ethnography to classroom practice; see for example

    Kate Pahl is a Reader in Literacies in Education at the University of Sheffield, UK. She is the author, with Jennifer Rowsell, of Literacy and Education: The New Literacy Studies in the Classroom (2nd edn, Sage, 2012) and Artifactual Literacies: Every Object Tells a Story (Teachers College Press, 2010). Her research focuses on literacy in the home and the community, and most recently she has conducted a research project, with colleagues from the English programme, called ‘Writing in the Home and in the Street’ (Arts and Humanities Research Council (ARHC) funded). She teaches on the MA in Working with Communities as well as the EdD in Literacy and Language at the School of Education, University of Sheffield.

    Karisa Peer is a PhD student in the division of Urban Schooling within the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA, USA. She works for UCLA's National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing. Karisa has conducted research with UCLA's Civil Rights Project/Proyecto de Derechos Civiles on the impact of Arizona's 4-hour English language development (ELD) model. She has worked with the Cotsen Family Foundation to determine the degree to which the Art of Teaching mentor programme affects student performance and achievement. Her research interests include family and community literacy practices and how they shape and influence early childhood literacy practices, particularly in Latino immigrant communities. Before entering graduate school, Karisa was an early childhood programme coordinator as well as an elementary school teacher in bilingual programmes. She received a BA in Spanish and Anthropology from Middlebury College and a MA in Education from the University of San Francisco.

    Shira M. Peterson, PhD, is a research associate at Children's Institute in Rochester, New York, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to strengthening children's social and emotional health. Her research focuses on supporting early educators in changing their practices with children, particularly in ways that recognize educators’ ‘stages of change’. Her research on teacher–child discourse, professional development, and readiness to change in the early childhood workforce has been published in journals such as Early Childhood Research Quarterly and Zero to Three, as well as several edited books. Dr Peterson is co-author of the Stage of Change Scale for Early Education and Care, and she currently offers training and consultation on responding to early educators’ readiness to change.

    Aria Razfar is an Associate Professor of Literacy, Language, and Culture at the University of Illinois at Chicago, USA. He is the director of Graduate Studies and the Bilingual/ESL programme in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. His work is grounded in sociocultural and critical theories of discourse, learning, and literacy development. His research has especially contributed to the understanding of teaching and learning of non-dominant populations across the life-span, domains of knowledge, and school/non-school contexts. His work appears in major peer-reviewed journals such as Anthropology of Education Quarterly, Human Development, Linguistics and Education, and Mind, Culture, and Activity. He has served as a Principal Investigator on several projects, including the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Center for Mathematics Education of Latinas/os (CEMELA) and the US Department of Education's Transforming Literacy, Science, and Math through Action Research (LSciMAct).

    Debbie Reese is tribally enrolled at Nambe Pueblo in Northern New Mexico, USA. The publisher of American Indians in Children's Literature, she taught at elementary school for American Indian children in New Mexico and Oklahoma, and at public schools in Albuquerque and Pojoaque, New Mexico. After completing her PhD in Education, she cofounded the Native American House and American Indian Studies programme at the University of Illinois. She has numerous publications in books and journals in the fields of Education, Children's Literature, and Library Science.

    Cecilia Rios-Aguilar is an Associate Professor at the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University, USA. Her research is multidisciplinary and uses a variety of conceptual frameworks (e.g., funds of knowledge and the forms of capital) and of statistical approaches (e.g., regression analysis, multilevel models, and social network analysis) to study the educational and occupational trajectories of under-represented students, including Latinas/os, English language learners, and immigrant and second-generation children and youth. Dr. Rios-Aguilar's applied research also includes the design and evaluation of different programmes and policies targeted to under-represented students.

    Muriel Robinson is Principal and Professor of Digital Literacies at Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln, UK. Her interest in digital literacies grew out of PhD work looking at the ways in which children make sense of narratives in print and on television which suggested that there are many similar strategies being deployed (1997). She has worked with Margaret Mackey developing the idea of an asset model of literacy, namely a model which starts from the experiences, knowledge and skills that children have to draw on in any one situation, and has extended this model to explore the digital literacy practices of intending teachers.

    Nancy L. Roser is Professor of Language and Literacy Studies, the Flawn Professor of Early Childhood, and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, USA. A former elementary teacher, she now teaches undergraduate elementary reading and language arts, as well as graduate courses in teaching the English Language Arts and Children's Literature. Her research interests include close inspection of children's book conversations in classrooms, the use of children's literature in literacy programmes, classroom discourse, and response to literature.

    Deborah Wells Rowe is an Associate Professor in the Language, Literacy, and Culture programme at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Her research focuses on understanding how preschool and elementary children learn to read and write in classroom settings. She has conducted qualitative studies of young children's writing and book-related play, connections between drama and writing, and the multimodal, cultural, embodied and spatial aspects of preschool literacy learning. She is currently studying how emerging bilinguals participate in writing in prekindergarten classrooms where the teachers are monolingual English speakers. In 2010, she was awarded the Dina Feitelson Research Award by the International Reading Association in recognition of her research on literacy acquisition.

    Jennifer Rowsell is a Canada Research Chair in Multiliteracies at the Faculty of Education, Brock University, Canada, where she directs the Centre for Multiliteracies. Her current research projects include: an International Reading Association (IRA) Elva Knight-funded study in an urban and suburban high school where she and a teacher adopt multimodal approaches to the teaching of English; a Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)-funded digital reading project in an elementary school in the Toronto area; and an interview study of 30 producers who specialize in different modes of expression and representation. She has written several books, articles, and chapters in the areas of multimodality, multiliteracies, and New Literacy Studies.

    Patricia L. Scharer is a Professor of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University, USA. She is actively involved in two literacy projects–Literacy Collaborative, a K–6 school reform model training on-site coaches to support teacher professional development, and Reading Recovery, a research-based intervention for first-grade students experiencing difficulty learning to read and write. Dr Scharer and colleagues were awarded a $54 million federal i3 grant to scale-up Reading Recovery across the US. Dr Scharer's research interests include early literacy development, phonics and word study, and the role of children's literature to foster both literary development and literacy achievement. Her research has been published in Reading Research Quarterly, Research in the Teaching of English, Educational Leadership, Language Arts, The Reading Teacher, Reading Research and Instruction, Journal of Reading Recovery, Literacy Teaching & Learning, and the yearbooks of the National Reading Conference and the College Reading Association.

    Tamara Spencer is an Assistant Professor at Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA. Her current research analyses the intersections of curricular policy and young children's literacy practices. Her publications include research articles in Advances in Early Education and Day Care, Complementary Methods for Research in Education, Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, Early Childhood Education Journal, and Perspectives on Urban Education. She has taught first and second grade and worked as a literacy specialist and administrator in public schools in New York, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Raleigh, North Carolina.

    Radhika Viruru is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture at Texas A&M University, USA, where she also serves as the Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Studies. From 2008 to 2010 she was an Associate Professor in the College of Education at Qatar University, in Doha, Qatar. Dr Viruru's interests include postcolonial theory and its application to international early childhood education. She is the author of two books on childhood and postcolonial theory (Early Childhood Education: Postcolonial Perspectives from India, published by SAGE, and Childhood and Postcolonization: Power, Education and Contemporary Practice [co-author], published by Routledge). She has recently been involved in multiple research and service projects connected to early childhood education and teacher professional development in Qatar.

    Melissa Wilson teaches courses on the teaching of writing to young children and co-directs the Columbus Area Writing Project at The Ohio State University, USA, having spent 30 years teaching in elementary schools in San Antonio, Texas, and Columbus, Ohio. She has served as a coeditor of Language Arts, the elementary journal from the National Council of Teachers of English. Her research focuses on how young children learn to write nonfiction and how they develop identities as writers. Her publications include Success Stories from a Failing School: Teachers Living Under the Shadow of NCLB (with Marilyn Johnston-Parsons), a chapter in the Handbook of Research on Children's and Young Adult Literature (with Barbara Kiefer), and an article in the Early Childhood Education Assembly (ECEA) Yearbook Perspectives and Provocation (co-authored with Laurie Katz, Caitlan Ryan and Detra Price-Dennis).

    Karen E. Wohlwend is an Assistant Professor in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education at Indiana University, USA. Her current research uses action-oriented and multimodal methods of critical discourse analysis to critically examine young children's play with literacies, popular media, and digital technologies in online and classroom spaces. Wohlwend's publications include numerous articles, a recent book, Playing Their Way into Literacies: Reading, Writing and Belonging in the Early Childhood Classroom, and two forthcoming books: Literacy, Play, and Globalization: Critical and Cultural Performances in Children's Converging Imaginaries (co-authored with Carmen Medina), and Literacy Playshop: Playing with New Literacies and Popular Media in Early Childhood Classrooms. Awards include the International Reading Association Outstanding Dissertation Award and the American Educational Research Association Language and Social Processes Emerging Scholar Award.

    Dominic Wyse is Professor of Early Childhood and Primary Education at the Institute of Education (IOE), University of London, UK. The main focus of his research is curriculum and pedagogy. Key areas of work are the teaching of English, language, literacy, and creativity. In addition to research in these areas Dominic has extensive experience in music including a position as the first Director of Music-Making at Churchill College Cambridge where he was also a Fellow. He is the lead editor of The Routledge International Handbook of English, Language, and Literacy Teaching (with Richard Andrews and James Hoffman) and editor of Literacy Teaching and Education: SAGE Library of Educational Thought and Practice. He is the lead author of Teaching English, Language and Literacy (3rd edn, Routledge with Russell Jones, Helen Bradford and Mary Anne Wolpert).

    Jerry Zutell is Professor Emeritus and former Director of the OSU Reading Clinic at the Ohio State University, USA. He has done research and written numerous articles about assessing students’ oral reading fluency, the stages of spelling development, the connections between word knowledge in spelling and reading, and instructional practices for making students better readers and spellers. Dr Zutell is the developer of the Directed Spelling Thinking Activity (DSTA) model for spelling instruction and the Theme, Context, Roots, Reference, and Review (TC3R) model for vocabulary instruction. He has served as a principal consultant on Merriam Webster's Primary Dictionary, and is the author of the Zaner–Bloser vocabulary series, Word Wisdom. Dr Zutell has recently co-authored two books for education professionals: Instructing Students Who Have Literacy Problems (6th edn, with Sandra McCormick) and Essential Strategies for Word Study: Effective Methods for Improving Decoding, Spelling, and Vocabulary (with Timothy Rasinski).


    JoanneLarson and JackieMarsh

    The last several decades have been powerful ones for the study of early childhood literacy. In many countries, much more attention is being paid to the early years than previously, as politicians recognise just how vital is this period of life. Alongside increased political interest, although largely quite independent of it, has been a resurgence of research as new definitions of early childhood literacy have developed, influenced by a wide range of disciplines (see Chapter 1). There are a number of approaches, therefore, that could have been undertaken in relation to the development of this second edition of the handbook, given the current complexity and scope of the field. The handbook has 35 chapters, written by 59 authors who come from seven countries across four continents. On the whole, the chapters reflect a particular and distinctive view of early childhood literacy. The perspectives of many chapters in this book are based on a view that early childhood literacy is a global, social, historical, cultural, and political construct. Many of the chapters suggest that literacy is a social practice that is linked to cultural and linguistic practices and power relationships in specific contexts. As a social practice, literacy learning is mediated by language and accomplished in a context in which social actors position, and are positioned by, each other in verbal, non-verbal, and textual interaction.

    This approach was identified for a number of reasons. The first is that the concept of early childhood literacy as a socially-situated practice is important to emphasize as a counter-balance to cognitive, individually-focused models of literacy that fail to recognize the way in which community and culture shape children's literate experiences. We believe that researchers have both a right and an obligation to think about literacy as a widespread social practice for children as well as for adults. Early childhood literacy can no longer remain the exclusive domain of educationalists and developmental psychologists. The second reason is that it is important to focus upon a broad interpretation of early childhood literacy that moves beyond the school walls, even though that can sometimes be at odds with contemporary political views of the concept. Researchers must, of course, be interested in the powerful political realities that drive education and schooling, but the extent to which so much research in literacy is driven by the agendas of schooling obscures the other realities of literacy–especially that literacy has a life outside of and beyond schooling. The third reason for the approach taken to the shaping of the handbook relates to a recognition of the ways in which literacy is changing in contemporary society. During the late twentieth century, technological developments precipitated a paradigm shift in relation to communicative practices and there was a greater focus on the ways in which people analysed and produced a range of multimodal texts. These changes have impacted greatly on children's lives and today all children, including the very young, are actively participating in their development and use. Many of the chapters in this handbook acknowledge this strong field of research in early childhood literacy and thus broaden traditional conceptions of literacy in the early years.

    We have made several changes to this second edition. Given that almost 10 years have passed since the first edition, there have been significant developments in the field. We have added a number of chapters in recognition of these newer areas of research, such as multimodality, space, place and literacy, material and digital literacies. In addition, this edition addresses some gaps in the first edition, such as disability studies, policy in early childhood and indigenous literacies. We have included a chapter in the final section that surveys the range of methodologies employed in this field. This addition of a number of chapters means that it was not possible to include revised versions of all of the chapters in the previous edition of this handbook. Those chapters that did appear in the first edition and are included in this second edition have been significantly revised. The fact that we have omitted some chapters that were included in the first edition does not mean that we feel those areas are not still important or relevant, simply that we wished to broaden the scope of this edition to ensure it reflected the current breadth of early childhood literacy research and therefore this handbook supplements, rather than totally replaces, the first edition.

    For the purposes of this handbook, as in the first edition, we are defining early childhood as that period from birth to 8 years old. This is a wider span than many others would accept. However, we recognise that whilst there are some variations in notions of early childhood in the Western world, there are even greater differences across the whole world. By taking a broader stance we increase inclusion, and if we extend beyond some people's preferences for what counts as ‘early childhood literacy’, then we also offer the opportunity to consider continuity of development across a greater period of time.

    The chapters in this handbook, therefore, offer a range of critical perspectives on research and key issues in particular aspects of the field. We do not claim a comprehensive overview of early literacy research in its totality, but suggest that the chapters here represent major themes in which leading authorities in the field provide rigorous social, cultural and historical analyses of aspects of early childhood literacy. The handbook is organised around five main themes.

    Part 1: Perspectives on Early Childhood Literacy

    The chapters in this section examine the notion of early childhood literacy, its history as a concept, and the way research has historically and contemporaneously positioned it. They consider the social, cultural, political and economic factors that impact upon the nature, function and use of literacy in early childhood.

    Part 2: Early Childhood Literacy in Families, Communities and Cultures across Media and Modes

    Early childhood literacy is rooted in family, community and cultural beliefs, attitudes, values and practices. In this section, the chapters centre around literacy as a social practice, exploring different ways in which families, communities and cultures construct, value and use literacy across multiple modes. In particular, these chapters explore how young children respond to these influences and develop ideas about the meanings and functions of literacy for themselves and with their families and communities.

    Part 3: Early Moves in Literacy

    This cluster of chapters focuses on the processes which underpin the acquisition and development of literacy during early childhood. The emphasis in this section is on how children come to understand what literacy is, what are its purposes, and how it functions.

    Part 4: Literacy in Preschool Settings and Schools

    In most countries, but not all, schooling is the institution for controlling children's formal access to the world of written language. Schooling is often controversial, with political agendas rather than research determining the curriculum and teaching practice. In this section, the chapters explore research which has illustrated how teachers and other practitioners create settings for young children's literacy learning, and how children respond to these professional practices and values.

    Part 5: Researching Early Childhood Literacy

    The chapters in this section explore in detail approaches to researching early childhood literacy from a largely qualitative perspective. They are designed to provide a theoretical background rather than offer practical approaches to empirical work, but in doing so provide a foundation for anyone setting out to conduct research in this field.

    We hope this book will prove useful to researchers, academics working in the field, students with an academic interest in childhood literacy, and policy makers. While the main audience is likely to be those located within the discipline of education, researchers working in linguistics, cultural studies and sociology will find issues of interest. It is our intention that this handbook will provide an informative and critical introduction to key aspects of research in early childhood literacy.

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