Staying in the (curricular) lines: Practice constraints and possibilities in childhood writing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Young children are growing up in a time when literacy practices and textual productions are in flux. Yet literacy curricula, particularly for those deemed "at risk," are tightly focused on the written language "basics." What are the potential consequences? In this article, the author considers this question, drawing on an ethnographic study of child writing in an urban school site. Using a sociocultural and dialogic frame, she examines first graders' interpretations and negotiations of official writing practices, detailing how these (a) shaped their written language use, including use of time and space, multimodal tools, and expected voices and modeled ideologies and (b) pushed to the sidelines or left in the unofficial child world aspects of their knowledge and know-how, including a breadth of communicative practices and a diversity of graphological symbols. The author concludes with reflections on instructional links among official writing practices, children's literacy experiences, and the "basics" in contemporary times.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-159
Number of pages41
JournalWritten Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Child culture
  • Multimodalities of child writing
  • Writing development
  • Writing in early childhood
  • Writing pedagogy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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