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Learning to be Literate: A Comparison of Five Urban Early Childhood Programs

Anne McGill-Franzen
University of Florida, Gainesville

Cynthia Lanford
Ellen Adams
University at Albany, State University of New York


Using naturalistic inquiry and case study contrasts, the authors found variation in the literacy support available to children. In income-eligible preschools, curricula and pedagogy reflected a limited view of children as learners. Children had less access to print, fewer opportunities to participate in literacy, and little experience listening to or discussing culturally relevant literature. The authors argue that poor children and children of color are socialized to practice a different literacy, one that offers limited experiences with books and is less connected to personal and community identity. If publicly funded early childhood programs, already isolated by class, are to provide an equitable foundation for literacy and schooling for children of low-income families, more challenging curricular and pedagogical frameworks are needed.

* Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(3), pp. 443-464, 2002.

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