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Language Arts, Vol. 90, No. 6, July 2013

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: Inquiries and Insights

  • Call for Manuscripts

  • Thoughts from the Editors: Reading the World to Read the Word [FREE ACCESS]

  • The Family Backpack Project: Responding to Dual-Language Texts through Family Journals [FREE ACCESS]

    Deborah Rowe and Jeanne Gilliam Fain

    Abstract: The Family Backpack Project provided 249 low-income, prekindergarten children and their families with opportunities to read and listen to audio recordings of 3 sets of books in their homes. Families received English or dual-language texts (English plus Spanish, Arabic, Kurdish, or Somali) matched to their home languages. Children and their families responded to an open-ended invitation to draw and write about the books in a family response journal. Children, 45% of whom were English learners, were enrolled in 13 public school, prekindergarten classrooms located in urban, Title I schools. They and their teachers received support and professional development for language and literacy instruction through an Early Reading First grant. In their journals, families focused on drawing story characters and scenes, summarizing key story elements, making connections to family life, completing school-like comprehension tasks, practicing conventional writing routines, and creating multimodal responses. Analyses showed that children were co-participants in reading/writing activities where families demonstrated and engaged the child in comprehending and interpreting books. Parents of second-language learners indicated that dual language books supported family book reading and encouraged connections across languages. The open-ended invitation to read and respond encouraged families to connect books to literacy practices and funds of knowledge based in family, community, and school experiences.

    Keywords: Writing, Book Reading, Family Literacy, Preschoolers

  • The Hunger Games: Literature, Literacy, and Online Affinity Spaces

    Jen Scott Curwood

    Abstract: This article examines adolescent literacy practices related to The Hunger Games, a young adult novel and the first of a trilogy. By focusing on the interaction of social identities, discourses, and media paratexts within an online affinity space, this ethnographic study offers insight into how young adults engage with contemporary literature. Moreover, it contributes to our understanding of how they use technology as an integral part of social networking and meaning making. The article ends with recommendations related to the teaching of young adult literature and the integration of digital tools and online spaces into the curriculum.

  • Toward a New Mindfulness: Explorations of Home and Community Literacies

    Erin Coccia Hamel, Sally Shaw, and Tammy Smith Taylor

    Abstract: A teacher study group explores issues of home and community literacies with a goal of utilizing out-of-school literacies to support in-school literacy learning.  The result was the beginning of a new mindfulness that allowed them to begin to recognize the existence and legitimacy of home and community literacies. They explored how their own biases impact literacy education and decided that their learning would require much more than a year-long exploration.

  • Research and Policy: Teaching about and with Informational Texts: What Does Research Teach Us?

    Beth Maloch and Randy Bomer

    Abstract: This column explores the research that investigates teaching children with informational texts, which is a growing concern and focus in Common Core State Standards (CCSS.) The authors highlight empirical data that study the use of informational texts with young learners. The article is foregrounded in four key findings: make the texts available and accessible, create authentic opportunities for engagement, engage students through interactive read-alouds, and employ explicit instruction.

  • Professional Book Reviews: Cultivating Minds with Words, Stories, and Social Action [FREE ACCESS]

    Lucy K. Spence, Pamela Jewett, Victoria A. Oglan, and Diane DeFord

    Abstract: The four books reviewed in this issue address important topics in schooling today, including bullying, critical literacy, close reading of texts, and language use in the classroom. Bullying Hurts: Teaching Kindness through Read Alouds and Guided Conversations provides lessons for developing kindness, compassion, and an understanding of difference in elementary school children. Teaching Children’s Literature: It’s Critical! shows us how to teach young people to critically examine texts and to take action on social issues. Notice and Note:  Strategies for Close Reading provides ideas on scaffolding students to become critically reflective readers who value and respect their thinking and the thinking of others. Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives shows us how to help children change counterproductive conceptions of their abilities and to develop the ability to engage with others to accomplish goals.

  • Children’s Literature Reviews: 2012 Notable Poetry Books [FREE ACCESS]

    Jonda C. McNair, Alan R. Bailey, Deanna Day, and Karla J. Möller

    Abstract: This column presents what we consider to be the most distinguished poetry books published in 2012. There are 13 titles featured, and they are about a wide range of topics—presidents, animal epitaphs, bees, math, the ocean, and others. This selection of notable poetry books features themed collections, picturebooks featuring a single poem, an anthology, and two titles that parody the work of famous poets such as William Carlos Williams, Langston Hughes, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman.

  • Conversation Currents: Learning from Families and Communities

    Catherine Compton-Lilly and Eve Gregory

    Abstract: This column features two prominent literacy scholars, Catherine Compton-Lilly and Eve Gregory. They discuss their recent research studies in various contexts and describe the reciprocal relationships between school, home, and community literacy practices.

  • Index for Volume 90

* Journal articles are provided in PDF format and can be opened using the free Adobe® Reader® program or a comparable viewer. Click here to download and install the most recent version of Adobe Reader.

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