Long before literacy instruction in school settings, young children from diverse cultural, socioeconomic, and language communities talk about and participate in the reading and writing events that exist in their world. Children learn to read and write for the same reasons that they learn to speak and listen: to make connections with others as they actively engage in the language events of the society in which they are immersed.

Although there has been evidence for well over a century that children invent their own literacies as members of their communities, many researchers believe that learning to read and write happens only in formal instructional settings in response to direct teaching. This entry describes early literacy development from a social constructivist and sociocultural perspective that considers the ...

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