1.1 Introduction

Young children such as Marvin, Maria, and John have diverse abilities and experiences with language. They are each at different places in terms of their physical stage of development, previous experiences, and expectations of what they think they can do. They use language in different ways. At times, they speak, beckon, or make other gestures. They laugh and smile to signal pleasure and cry out in pain, anger or frustration. They use language for enjoyment and for resolution of problems. They are listening and speaking, communicating non-verbally, and developing concepts that support their comprehension and vocabulary. They can share meaning by expressing themselves and understanding language. Young children are beginning to demonstrate that they can communicate a message through writing.

This textbook, The Early Literacy Journey: Supporting and Celebrating Young Learners, outlines the connection between different areas of language and literacy and describes strategies for supporting development and promoting instruction. Early literacy includes reading, writing, and language development. Writing includes any early writing attempts and pre-writing behaviors just as reading includes any early reading attempts and recognition of symbols and sounds. Language also includes listening and speaking (oral language) and the use of gestures and signs to communicate. The term oral language is commonly used to describe early language development separately from reading and writing. This text assumes oral language is a component of language and embraces the broader term to underscore the communication practices outside of listening and speaking. For example, some children use sign language or a picture board. For these reasons, the textbook will focus on language development in its totality, including oral language. This textbook is focused on birth to age 5 because early literacy development is crucial for future learning and development.

This chapter will enable each student to:

  • Discuss the concept of emergent literacy
  • Explore the use of a strength-based approach to early literacy
  • Define important terms related to early literacy



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The Early Literacy Journey: Supporting and Celebrating Young Learners Copyright © 2024 by Sandra Carrie Garvey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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