I’m gonna get it for my birthday: Young children’s interpretive reproduction of literacy practices in school

Lucy Henning

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In this paper I argue that the mainstream assumptions that inform current educational policy and practice for young children’s in-school literacy development in schools are insufficient to secure a helpful account of young children’s classroom literacy practices. The particular problem lies with the reliance of such policy and practice on perspectives that assume firstly that literacy acquisition comprises the orderly acquisition of predefined concepts, skills and knowledge; and secondly that the task of schools is to bring individual children’s concepts, skills and knowledge of literacy in line with what is considered ‘normal’ for their age. I argue that such perspectives are too narrow to secure a clear enough view of the complex phenomena of young children’s encounter with being taught to read and write in school. In this paper I present two alternative theoretical lenses through which the familiar phenomena of young children’s encounter with being schooled in literacy can be viewed: firstly that of Literacy as a Social Practice (hereafter LSP) (Street 1984; Barton and Hamilton1998, Barton 2007) and secondly that of ‘interpretive reproduction’, a theoretical account of young children’s participation in their social worlds developed by William Corsaro (cf Corsaro 2000, 2005, 2011, 2015). To demonstrate how helpful such perspectives can be in understanding the familiar phenomena of young children’s literacy schooling, I apply them to the analysis of one child, Dean’s, encounter with schooled literacy within the social world of an early twenty-first century West London Classroom.

© 2018, SAGE Publications. This is an author produced version of a paper published in the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link below. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Early Childhood Literacy
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2018

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