Coach Bombay's kids learn to write: Children's appropriation of media material for school literacy

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In my year-long ethnographic study in an urban first grade classroom, I examined the what's and how's of children's appropriation of media material for participation in unofficial peer worlds and also official academic ones, especially those involving child composing. Focusing on a tight-knit group of friends, I documented the range of cultural texts that figured into this local version of a contemporary childhood, particularly those of the popular media (e.g., radio songs, movies, cartoons, and sports media shows). The children and their classmates differentially appropriated these same cultural texts in their forays into school literacy. Thus, I also examined the nature of this recontextualization of texts, including (a) the material appropriated (both textual and conceptual); (b) the textual or compositional means through which those multimedia appropriations were transformed into written prose; and (c) the ways in which the resulting written texts mediated children's participation in and negotiation with school worlds. To allow theoretical depth and narrative coherence, in this article I highlight child appropriations from sports and sports-related media. I describe the kinds of textual and conceptual knowledge embedded in textual practices that, unlike engagements with storybooks and environmental print, have seldom received serious attention in early literacy research. Moreover, I stress the potential hybrid nature of even the earliest of children's written texts; inherent in this hybridization are developmental and pedagogical challenges - complex tensions related to the symbolic, social, and ideological diversity of children's present resources and pleasures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-401
Number of pages35
JournalResearch in the Teaching of English
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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