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12 Nov 2013

Early Literacy Instruction

Elfrieda H. Hiebert & Taffy E. Raphael


Hiebert, E.H. & Raphael, T.E. (2013). Early Literacy Instruction. (reprint of 1998 edition) Santa Cruz: TextProject, Inc.


One of the most challenging areas facing literacy educators today is introducing young children to the joys and purposes as well as the underlying skills and strategies related to literacy. In order to encourage lifelong literacy while simultaneously developing basic understandings of letters and sounds, how books work, and ways that literacy exists and can be used in everyday life is one of the more hotly debated topics in our field. Early Literacy Instruction is intended for teachers, both preservice and inservice, and teacher educators who wish to expand their knowledge about teaching young children to read and write. We have written the book so that educators with a variety of experiences-from classroom teachers to those working in resource rooms to the family support system-can build and expand their knowledge about early literacy instruction.
The comprehensive scope of the book encompasses standards for early literacy instruction, instructional strategies, alternative assessment procedures, strategies for making program connections, and ways to integrate children's home literacy into the classroom. This engaging, user-friendly text makes the ideas readily accessible to those interested in helping young children learn to read. We begin each chapter with a set of vignettes, which are windows into the thinking, reading, and writing of young children before they engage the text. These vignettes provide real-world examples of children entering print worlds. The vignettes that begin each chapter have been carefully chosen to emphasize key points in the chapter-in effect, the vignettes are the text equivalent of videotapes, brief plays, or photo albums that illustrate the principles and key points within the chapter. Through the vignettes, the instructional ideas come alive.
The vignettes instantiate the second key feature of the book-an overarching set of principles grounded in socio-cultural theory as applied to the literacy education of young children. We detail a coherent theory about what literacy is and how children learn literacy. Each chapter focuses on a specific aspect of how teachers create classrooms that immerse children in theoretically-sound, meaningful literacy through events, lessons, and activities.
We present a balanced perspective of early literacy instruction. We balance information about theory and practice. We balance between and among the language arts, between holistic literacy activity and specific skill development, and we balance between a school-to-home and a home-to-school connection. For both beginning and experienced teachers, we provide specific ideas and tools to support their teaching. These ideas and tools include book lists, assessment tools, san1ple lesson plans, word lists relevant to different activities, and activities for writing in library and play centers.