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Overview

Is literacy a social and cultural practice, or a set of cognitive skills to be learned and applied? Literacy researchers, who have differed sharply on this question, will welcome this book, which is the first to address the critical divide. The authors lucidly explain how we develop our abilities to read and write and offer a unified theory of literacy development that places cognitive development within a sociocultural context of literacy practices. Drawing on research that reveals connections between literacy as it is practiced outside of school and as it is taught in school, the authors argue that students learn to read and write through the knowledge and skills that they bring with them to the classroom as well as from the ways that literacy is practiced in their own different social communities.

The authors argue that until literacy development can be understood in this broader way educators will never be able to develop truly effective literacy instruction for the broad range of sociocultural communities served by schools.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

After researching the characteristics of adult literacy students in the U.S., the authors reject the implications that the cognitive perspectives of Jeanne Chall and the social perspectives of James Gee are independent and incommensurable. The primary goal of this volume is to reconnect the two perspectives of social and cognitive researchers and, hopefully, provide a better account for literacy development...The authors [argue] that adults learn to read and write through instruction that builds on the literacy worlds in the classroom and in their social worlds.
— D. Pellegrino

Hal Beder
This book powerfully advances the argument that becoming literate involves much more than learning a set of skills in school. The authors skillfully weave many threads--child literacy, social literacy, use of authentic materials, in school learning and out of school literacy practices--into a complex, clear, convincing case. Important for literacy theorists, readable by practitioners, this is an academic book that one might actually read on a beach.
Choice - D. Pellegrino
After researching the characteristics of adult literacy students in the U.S., the authors reject the implications that the cognitive perspectives of Jeanne Chall and the social perspectives of James Gee are independent and incommensurable. The primary goal of this volume is to reconnect the two perspectives of social and cognitive researchers and, hopefully, provide a better account for literacy development...The authors [argue] that adults learn to read and write through instruction that builds on the literacy worlds in the classroom and in their social worlds.
Choice
After researching the characteristics of adult literacy students in the U.S., the authors reject the implications that the cognitive perspectives of Jeanne Chall and the social perspectives of James Gee are independent and incommensurable. The primary goal of this volume is to reconnect the two perspectives of social and cognitive researchers and, hopefully, provide a better account for literacy development...The authors [argue] that adults learn to read and write through instruction that builds on the literacy worlds in the classroom and in their social worlds.
— D. Pellegrino
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674022546
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 0.47 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Victoria Purcell-Gates is Canada Research Chair in Early Childhood Literacy at the University of British Columbia.

Erik Jacobson is an Assistant Professor at Montclair State University.

Sophie Degener is a Research Associate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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Table of Contents

1 The learn to read and write : students who fail and succeed 1
2 The LPALS study 12
3 How does print literacy develop? 23
4 Literacy as social practice 29
5 Print literacy as cognitive skill development 41
6 The seeming incommensurability of the social and the cognitive 63
7 Print literacy development through a widened lens 81
8 The course of print literacy development in and out of school 126
9 Signs and symbols : research implications for best practice 159
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