The uses of literacy and the spread of books and schools are a reflection of a society's values and attitudes. Each society must determine the answers to value-laden questions such as, Who should learn to read? What should be the content of available reading material? Who has the responsibility for creating and maintaining places of learning? American culture has come up with different answers to these questions at different moments in time. As American culture has changed and evolved, as different concerns have developed, the uses of literacy have been transformed as well. What has remained constant, though, is that Americans employ a variety of methods in interacting with the written word. This entry offers a definition of literacy.

Literacy is a mosaic of socially ...

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