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

Henning, Lucy (2020). I’m gonna get it for my birthday: Young children’s interpretive reproduction of literacy practices in school. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 20(4) pp. 706–731.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1468798418784112

Abstract

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. A particular problem lies with the reliance of such policy and practice on perspectives that assume, first, that literacy acquisition comprises the orderly acquisition of predefined concepts, skills and knowledge; and second, 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 phenomenon 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 phenomenon of young children’s encounter with being schooled in literacy can be viewed: first, that of Literacy as a Social Practice (henceforth LSP); and second, that of ‘interpretive reproduction’, a theoretical account of young children’s participation in their social worlds developed by William Corsaro. To demonstrate how helpful such perspectives can be in understanding the familiar phenomenon 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 London classroom.

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