Tuesday, September 04, 2012

On books

In writing about popular literacies and digital culture there is often a need to underline the ways in which the dominant discourses and practices of print literacy are privileged by schools and wider society. Quite specific adult-child interactions with picture story books have been normalised in the literature of early literacy, and because of this some educators (myself included) have emphasised the importance of other ways of meaning-making and other kinds of literacy. By adopting broader and newer definitions of literacy it may sometimes seem that we are against traditional forms - but this is actually not the case. With a new project on the use of interactive storybooks on iPads, some of these misapprehensions may clear. Here we'll be looking at young children doing book-sharing with adults - differently mediated of course - but arguably the same thing. Last year I worked with colleagues evaluating a Booktrust project based on book gifting for 11 year olds. The evaluation of this, the Booked Up project, is here. And currently I'm working with a team who are looking at Bookstart (aimed a younger children). So these conjunctions between new, traditional, narrow and broad definitions of literacy are very much on my mind. Although the study of children's literature sometimes seems to be a bit of a rarefied discipline, it continues to make an important contribution. Perhaps there is a need for more discussion between some of the factionalised camps of literacy educators. Reading Michael Rosen on Sunday, I was struck by how his idea that what we call children's literature '... are interventions in society's debate about bringing up children' would be an excellent starting point. What other literacies make such interventions? Critical literacies, digital literacies, multiliteracies....

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