Towards a reconceptualization of written language development

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Researchers interested in written language development have tended to explore a single "layer" of written language growth, for example, the structural complexity of children's textual worlds or the orthographic sophistication of their first encoded words. But young children's actions suggest that these multiple layers are actually multiple dimensions of their symbolic acts: Textual words and worlds are dynamically linked with each other. More broadly, researchers and educators often conceive of written language as an extension of oral language development. But young children's participation in "literacy" events illustrates the complex links between written language growth and the development of children's entire symbolic repertoires and changing social relationships. Thus, through a critical consideration of existent research and an interpretive analysis of a child's early school experiences, this article aims to contribute to an authentic, more childlike vision of literacy growth. This vision preserves the links between the multiple dimensions of literate activity and the multiple symbolic tools of young children. Moreover, this article argues that such a vision yields new ways of thinking about, and potentially taking advantage of, the diverse symbolic resources of children in our schools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-161
Number of pages23
JournalLinguistics and Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'Towards a reconceptualization of written language development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this