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PLAY AND LITERACY IN EARLY CHILDHOOD: Research From Multiple Perspectives.

PLAY AND LITERACY IN EARLY CHILDHOOD: Research From Multiple Perspectives. Kathleen Roskos & James F. Christie, Eds. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2000. Building on an earlier text (edited by Christie, 1991), Roskos and Christie offer another selection of literacy-play research that extends earlier observations and points the reader in new directions. Twenty-nine widely acclaimed professors and researchers contributed to this significant text.

Part I, A Cognitive Perspective, links dramatic play with literacy learning, and symbolic play with phonological awareness and literacy skills. One chapter, written by Greta Fein, Ardila Rey, and Lois Groth, addresses the importance of narrative connections, and is particularly helpful in extending research into practice. The authors also provide a well-rounded Narrative Activities Inventory (NAI) to promote literacy-rich classroom activities, props, and behaviors.

Part II, An Ecological Perspective, explores the results of empirically based studies on the effects of educational interventions and home practices on children's early literacy. All three chapters in Part II demonstrate the unfortunately wide gulf between theory and practice. The authors call for social policy, legislation, and parent and teacher development that incorporate measures to bridge this gap.

Part III, A Sociocultural Approach, focuses on how community influences and implicit goals affect children's play and interpretation of the meaning and functions of literacy. The commentary for this section states that researchers and educators must conceptualize culture as an element of children's development, rather than as a variable that affects children's development. Thus, our task as educators becomes one of "negotiating the boundaries" of various home, school, and cultural practices, and transforming these practices for greater literacy / play benefits.

This text offers stimulating insight into the relationships among early play behaviors and practices and the child's acquisition of literacy. In addition, readers will more fully understand that play, itself, is a zone of proximal development (to borrow from Vygotsky) and, as such, is a learning opportunity that invites children to expand their physical, social, emotional, and intellectual boundaries. Reviewed by Susan Trostle Brand, University of Rhode Island, Kingston
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Brand, Susan Trostle
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 2001
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