Seeing All Kids as Readers: A New Vision for Literacy in the Inclusive Early Childhood Classroom / Edition 1

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For young children with moderate to severe disabilities, developing literacy skills can lead to more active and fulfilling membership in society. This motivating, forward-thinking book will help educators see all their students as literate and use an innovative social model of literacy to enrich the skills of children with and without disabilities. Relating in-depth stories from hundreds of hours spent observing inclusive preschool classrooms, literacy researcher Christopher Kliewer inspires readers to

  • view literacy as more than direct interaction with alphabetic text
  • use dynamic, imaginative methods—dramatic play, drawing, painting, dance, movement—to help students with disabilities acquire useful literacy skills
  • encourage students with and without disabilities to collaborate on literacy-building activities throughout the day
  • incorporate the interests, imaginations, and histories of students with disabilities in classroom routines and lessons

Special and general educators will discover how this bold new vision of literacy and inclusion will benefit all their students, and they'll use the vivid examples as models in their own classrooms. A passionate, carefully researched call to action, this eye-opening book will help educators move beyond the labels and expectations often associated with disability, presume competence instead of limitation, and ensure that students with significant disabilities reach their full potential as literate citizens.

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Editorial Reviews

Independent Consultant and Scholar; author, "You're Going to Love This Kid!": Teaching Students with Autism in the I - Paula Kluth
"Challenges us to understand ability and literacy itself in new ways . . . a compelling and important read for anyone who is interested in literacy, teaches children, or wants to inspire change in education."
Professor, Language, Reading, and Exceptionalities, Reich College of Education, Appalachian State University - David Koppenhaver
"It's hard to imagine what exciting classrooms might be if we all assumed, like the inclusive educators in these pages, that our students' only real limitations were our own imagining of their possibilities."
Dean, School of Education, Syracuse University; author, "Autism and the Myth of the Person Alone" - Douglas Biklen
"Sparkles with optimism, challenging us to discover the passion of children with disabilities to recognize the literate world and be recognized."
California Bookwatch
"Provides a fine inspirational guide to literacy which uses imaginative teaching methods to help students with disabilities acquire literacy's an outstanding guide."
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
"[Kliewer] outlines his recommendations for fostering the literate development of young children with severe disabilities in inclusive settings. Several practical activities are summarized in a table and will be particularly useful to early childhood educators."
From the Publisher

"Provides a fine inspirational guide to literacy which uses imaginative teaching methods to help students with disabilities acquire literacy's an outstanding guide."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557669018
  • Publisher: Brookes, Paul H. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 3/1/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 150
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Kliewer is a professor of special education at the University of Northern Iowa, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate classes on inclusive education and qualitative research methods. His own qualitative research is focused on the literacy development of young children with significant developmental disabilities who are schooled in inclusive early childhood programs. Since 2001, his research has been supported through U.S. Department of Education research grants. His publications have appeared in the Harvard Educational Review, American Educational Research Journal, and the Teachers College Record among numerous other sociological and educational research venues.

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Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from Chapter 4 of Seeing All Kids as Readers: A New Vision for Literacy in the Inclusive Early Childhood Classroom, by Christopher Kliewer, Ph,D.Copyright © Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

The interpretation of the signs of another's text (e.g., reading, being read to, looking at pictures) is also the construction of signs. Previously, I pointed out how the children's reactions (i.e., their construction of new signs) varied in response to the picture book. Children are not simply decoding some objective meaning when confronting an existing text, but are always in the process of translating and connecting the text to their own experiences as a way of making sense of the narrative and the world. In the example of the two girls participating in the group activity following a visit to a pizza restaurant, each took the original narrative and crafted new and very original signs with their own unique narratives.

Crafting new signs, whether through the direct construction of text or through the interpretation of another's text, provides children with a developing sophistication of written language. They are learning that the signs they create are not haphazard or random but hold a particular logic and that the motivated link between meaning and form is maintained as they move into alphabetic text. Meaning remains the integral element, and form is the means of expression. Marks that are closely connected contain meaning, and there is a formal organization (i.e., linkages and lines of text) that allows for the organization of meaning. Children experience written language as having particular spatial qualities, layout, and directionality. They also encounter it as linear, as elements in sequence, as sequenced elements that are connected, as elements made up of simple shapes, and as elements that are repeatable. There appears to be no rooted or native hierarchy here. Children in inclusive, literate communities are exposed to these complexities, actively engage in them, and begin to construct meaning from them in different patterns, at different rates, and according to individualized literate profiles. Although literacy may appear similar across children, no two children ever follow the same path or pattern.

Beginning with Words of Intense Meaning

Children's earliest efforts at making sense of the complexities of print tend to be around signs of particular significance and meaning. Children learn that meaning and form are maintained in alphabetic signs. Often the child's printed name is one word that is central to the child's identity and is made visually available in the early childhood environment with commentary from surrounding adults.

Early in the school year, just prior to his fourth birthday, I observed Sam, a typically developing child, sign his name. He made a line with several curves considered by his teachers to represent an S. He told an adult, "This is Sam. This is me! I drew my name." Sam had come at that moment to symbolically embody a sense of self in the beginning letter of his name. In addition, he had spent an extraordinary amount of time developing the curves of the S. If I had not been observing, I would have assumed he had made the line quickly and fairly randomly. However, I had been witness to the intellectual intensity that he poured into the effort. Clearly the shape was of central concern, even though it bore only minimal similarity to what I consider a normal S.

Some of Sam's peers were also demonstrating interest in letter formation to express narratives. Some focused their creative efforts on the linear quality of lines of text; others grouped markings together in a way that looked like single words but were at times read as sentences. Still others seemed to be, similar to Sa

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Table of Contents

About the Author



1. "Dancing to Books": Local Understanding and Literate Participation in Early Childhood Implementing Local Understanding
Encouraging Literate Participation
The Genesis of Local Understanding

2. "It's About Making Sense": Citizenship in the Inclusive Early Childhood Literate Community Young Children's Expression on a Continuum
Established Constructions of Literacy
Perceptions of Literacy for Young Children with Significant Developmental Disabilities

3. "We Going a Space": Cardboard Boxes, Rockets, and the Child's Literate Construction of Meaning Children's Literate Citizenship Formed from the Triadic Literate Profile
Interrelationship of the Constructs of the Young Child's Literate Profile
The Bethel Rocket
"Just Shooting for the Stars" and Other Concluding Thoughts

4. "I See All My Kids as Readers!": Symbolic Presence, Narrative Construction, and Literacy Signs The Child's Symbolic Presence The Child's Construction of Narrative
The Child's Construction of Visual, Orthographic, and Tactile Sign Systems
The Tenuous Relationship Between the Child and Literate Citizenship 5. "And I Looked in Those Eyes": Fostering the Literate Citizenship of Young Children with Significant Developmental Disabilities The Struggle for Literate Acceptance
Realizing a Literate Voice
Currents of Literate Citizenship
The Basic Skills-Phonics Model and Young Children with Significant Developmental Disabilities 6. "His Only Limitations Were How I Imagined He Could Do Things": Concluding Thoughts on the Literate Citizenship of Young Children with Significant Developmental DisabilitiesInclusive Education and Local Understanding: The True Basics of Literate Citizenship
The Enriched Community: Inclusion and Literacy
Literacy as a Civil Right


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