Hidden Literacies: Children Learning at Home and at School

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Heinemann Educ Books, 1996 - Education - 220 pages
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Far from teachers' eyes, children learn some of their most powerful literacies--literacies that usually remain unknown, unacknowledged, and uncelebrated by school. Teachers want and need that information. "Hidden Literacies" provides a much-needed window into children's home lives and learnings, uncovering multiple literacies that need to be valued in their own right--and that can become additional tools to develop print literacy.

Voss tells the stories of three fourth-grade children: Kelly, talkative but lacking confidence in her ability to read and write; Eric, struggling with print but handy with tools and mechanical things; and Janette, literate in print and successful--though quiet--in school. With insight and sensitivity, Voss shows the children interacting and learning in their homes and describes their classroom teacher's efforts to tap their varied literacies in school.

Influenced by Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences and Denny Taylor's research on family literacy, Voss shows how familial influences on children lead them to develop particular strengths, and she describes the features of home learning that teachers should understand and consider. She suggests we broaden our concept of literacy to include more than print--media literacy, consumer literacy, and especially interactive and mechanical literacy--so that we might see and value the multiple literacies children already have. The book's final chapter acknowledges the difficulties of translating knowledge into practice, but suggests ways to begin.

"Hidden Literacies" will challenge educators at all levels to broaden their definition of literacy. It is a book that both teachers and parents will value.

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About the author (1996)

MARGARET M. VOSS, currently a fifth-grade teacher in Marblehead, Massachusetts, has also been a writing specialist, educational consultant, college teacher. She holds a Ph.D. in reading and writing instruction from the University of New Hampshire, where she taught graduate and undergraduate courses and studied with Donald Graves and Jane Hansen. Her articles have appeared in Language Arts and Reading/Writing Newsletter, and she has published chapters in several Heinemann books. Voss was a finalist for 1996 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year.

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