Literacy Development and Language Acquisition
- LAST REVIEWED: 28 April 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 29 June 2015
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0025
- LAST REVIEWED: 28 April 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 29 June 2015
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0025
Literacy development and language acquisition are processes that are studied within several overlapping fields: education, special education, educational psychology, communication disorders, and, more broadly, psychology. Understanding these processes is relevant to researchers, educators, school leaders, reading specialists, school psychologists, and, of course, families. The citations that have been chosen for this article were selected to lead users to important sources of information that are highly relevant to this field and deliberately include some texts that are more researcher oriented and others that will aid practitioners in applying research in classrooms and other instructional settings. The first few sections provide a general overview of the field of literacy and language acquisition, including textbooks, data sets, and theoretical frameworks. The next sections focus on the relationships among various components of the reading process and how to teach these components. Finally, issues related to selecting texts for early reading instruction, assessment, and the classroom environment are covered.
The following general references provide a well-balanced introduction to the broad field of language and literacy development. Readers interested in understanding the debates about how best to teach reading will appreciate Adams 1990 and may also wish to go back in history to read the classic Chall 1967. Rayner, et al. 2002 provides an up-to-date, relatively brief overview of the more-recent evidence-based approaches to reading instruction. Anderson, et al. 1985 is an excellent, comprehensive synthesis of reading research. A more recent synthesis targeting the prevention of reading difficulties is presented in Snow, et al. 1998, published by the National Academy Press. National Reading Panel 2000 provides a meta-analysis of evidence-based practices related to phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. This panel report led to the expression of scientifically based reading research (SBRR), which continues to figure prominently in federal reading legislation. Kamil, et al. 2011 offers a review of research conducted in the first decade of the 21st century. Neuman and Dickinson 2011, a handbook, is similar but focuses specifically on early literacy research. National Early Literacy Panel 2008 also contains extensive reviews of the literature.
Adams, Marilyn Jager. 1990. Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge, MA: MIT.
This classic text summarizes basic and applied research on the acquisition of reading and includes instructional implications and an examination of predictors of successful reading. Adams highlights the need to teach children explicitly and systematically to decode words automatically and to connect words to meaning and context.
Anderson, Richard C., Elfrieda H. Hiebert, Judith A. Scott, and Ian A. G. Wilkinson. 1985. Becoming a nation of readers: The report of the Commission on Reading. Washington, DC: National Academy of Education.
Appropriate for upper-level undergraduate classes, graduate classes, and professional development, this is a thorough synthesis of the knowledge base of reading and state-of-the-art reading instruction, focusing on the importance of teaching reading in a comprehensive approach.
Chall, Jeanne S. 1967. Learning to read: The great debate; An inquiry into the science, art, and ideology of old and new methods of teaching children to read, 1910–1965. New York: McGraw-Hill.
In this book, Chall reviews the literature on how best to teach beginning reading. She emphasizes the importance of teaching students phonics to help them sound out, or decode, words. “The great debate” refers to disagreement between camps of researchers who favored different reading approaches.
Kamil, Michael L., P. David Pearson, Elizabeth Birr Moje, and Peter P. Afflerbach, eds. 2011. Handbook of reading research. Vol. 4. New York: Routledge.
This handbook provides a comprehensive review of reading research conducted in the first decade of the 21st century. When combined with the previous volumes, this text provides a broad history of reading research. Chapters are suitable for graduate students, researchers, and policymakers.
National Early Literacy Panel. 2008. Developing early literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel; A scientific synthesis of early literacy development and implications for intervention. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy.
This report examines the research to find the early skills that most strongly predict later literacy achievement. Predictors include alphabetic knowledge; phonological awareness; rapid automatic naming of letters, digits, or objects; writing or writing name; and phonological memory. The report also summarizes the effectiveness of home and school programs.
National Reading Panel. 2000. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. NIH Pub. 00-4769. Washington, DC: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health.
Reports the findings of a government-commissioned, large-scale meta-analysis of quasi-experimental and experimental studies on reading instruction. The goal was to assess the effectiveness of different approaches used to teach children how to read.
Neuman, Susan B., and David K. Dickinson, eds. 2011. Handbook of early literacy research. Vol. 3. New York: Guilford.
This handbook is a valuable text for early-childhood researchers as well as preservice and in-service teachers. It provides a solid research basis for the importance of high-quality early literacy instruction for children’s development and later academic achievement.
Rayner, Keith, Barbara R. Foorman, Charles A. Perfetti, David Pesetsky, and Mark S. Seidenberg. 2002. How should reading be taught? Scientific American 286.3 (24 March): 84–91.
This article briefly describes three approaches to reading instruction, how beginning readers learn to read, the necessity of phonics, and the importance of balanced instruction.
Snow, Catherine E., M. Susan Burns, and Peg Griffin, eds. 1998. Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
This synthesis of the research on reading development and instruction, and intervention to prevent reading difficulties early in a child’s career, remains a very helpful resource for school leaders, school psychologists, and teachers, as well as parents, pediatricians, and policymakers. Suggestions include specific skills children should attain at certain grade levels.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- Academic Achievement
- Academic Audit for Universities
- Academic Freedom and Tenure in the United States
- Action Research in Education
- Adjuncts in Higher Education in the United States
- Administrator Preparation
- Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Courses
- African American Racial Identity and Learning
- Alternative Certification Programs for Educators
- Alternative Schools
- American Indian Education
- Art Education
- Assessing School Leader Effectiveness
- Assessment, Behavioral
- Assessment, Educational
- Assessment in Early Childhood Education
- Athletics, College
- Beginning-Teacher Induction
- Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
- Blended Learning
- Case Study in Education Research
- Changing Professional and Academic Identities
- Character Education
- Children’s and Young Adult Literature
- Children's Beliefs about Intelligence
- Children's Rights in Early Childhood Education
- Classroom Management
- College Admissions in the United States
- Community Relations
- Comparative Education
- Computer-Based Testing
- Counseling in Schools
- Critical Race Theory
- Crossborder and Transnational Higher Education
- Culturally Responsive Leadership
- Culturally Responsive Pedagogies
- Culturally Responsive Teacher Education in the United Stat...
- Curriculum Design
- Data Collection in Educational Research
- Data-driven Decision Making in the United States
- Deaf Education
- Desegregation and Integration
- Development, Moral
- Digital Age Teacher, The
- Distance Learning
- Distributed Leadership
- Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Denmark
- Early Childhood Education and Development in Mexico
- Early Childhood Education in Australia
- Early Childhood Education in China
- Early Childhood Education in Europe
- Early Childhood Education in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Early Childhood Education in Sweden
- Early Childhood Education Pedagogy
- Early Childhood Education Policy
- Early Childhood Education, The Arts in
- Early Childhood Mathematics
- Early Childhood Teacher Education
- Early Childhood Teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand
- Early Years Professionalism and Professionalization Polici...
- Economics of Education
- Education For Children with Autism
- Education Leadership, Empirical Perspectives in
- Education Reform and School Change
- Educational Statistics for Longitudinal Research
- Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
- Epistemic Beliefs
- Ethics and Education
- Ethics of Teaching
- Ethnic Studies
- Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention
- Family and Community Partnerships in Education
- Family Day Care
- Federal Government Programs and Issues
- Finance, Education
- Financial Aid
- Formative Assessment
- Gender and Achievement
- Gifted Education
- Global Mindedness and Global Citizenship Education
- Global University Rankings
- Governance, Education
- Grounded Theory
- Higher Education and Globalization
- Higher Education and the Developing World
- Higher Education Governance
- Higher Education in China
- Higher Education in the United States, Historical Evolutio...
- Higher Education, International Issues in
- Higher Education Policy
- Higher Education Research
- Higher Education Student Assessment
- High-stakes Testing
- History of Education in the United States
- Inclusive Education
- Indigenous Education in a Global Context
- Inservice Teacher Education
- Integrating Art across the Curriculum
- Intensive Interventions for Children and Adolescents with ...
- Intersectionality and Education
- Knowledge Development in Early Childhood
- Leadership Development, Coaching and Feedback for
- Leadership Training
- Learning Difficulties
- Learning, Lifelong
- Learning, Multimedia
- Legal Matters and Education Law
- LGBT Youth in Schools
- Linguistic Diversity
- Linguistically Inclusive Pedagogy
- Literacy Development and Language Acquisition
- Literacy, Multiple Documents
- Literature Reviews
- Mathematics Instruction and Interventions for Students wit...
- Mathematics Teacher Education
- Measurement in Education in the United States
- Meta-Analysis and Research Synthesis in Education
- Methodologies for Conducting Education Research
- Mindfulness, Learning, and Education
- Mixed Methods Research
- Multivariate Research Methodology
- Museums, Education, and Curriculum
- Music Education
- Narrative Research in Education
- Numeracy Education
- Online Education
- Pedagogy of Teacher Education, A
- Performance Objectives and Measurement
- Performance-based Research Assessment in Higher Education
- Performance-based Research Funding
- Phenomenology in Educational Research
- Philosophy of Education
- Physical Education
- Politics of Education
- Portable Technology for Special Education
- Pre-Service Teacher Education
- Problem Solving
- Professional Development
- Professional Learning Communities
- Program Evaluation
- Programs and Services for Students with Emotional or Behav...
- Psychology Learning and Teaching
- Psychometric Issues in the Assessment of English Language ...
- Qualitative Data Analysis Techniques
- Qualitative Research Design
- Quantitative Research Designs in Educational Research
- Race and Affirmative Action in Higher Education
- Reading Education
- Refugee and New Immigrant Learners
- Religion in Elementary and Secondary Education in the Unit...
- Researcher Development and Skills Training within the Cont...
- Response to Intervention
- Restorative Practices
- School Accreditation
- School Choice
- School Culture
- School Improvement through Inclusive Education
- School Reform
- Schools, Private and Independent
- School-Wide Positive Behavior Support
- Science Education
- Secondary to Postsecondary Transition Issues
- Self-Regulated Learning
- Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices
- Severe Disabilities
- Single Salary Schedule
- Single-sex Education
- Single-Subject Research Design
- Social Context of Education
- Social Justice
- Social Network Analysis
- Social Pedagogy
- Social Science and Education Research
- Social Studies Education
- Sociology of Education
- Statistical Assumptions
- Student Assignment Policy
- Student Engagement in Tertiary Education
- Student Participation
- Student Voice in Teacher Development
- Teacher Evaluation and Teacher Effectiveness
- Teacher Preparation
- Teacher Training and Development
- Teacher Unions and Associations
- Teaching Critical Thinking
- Technology Education in Early Childhood
- Technology, Educational
- The Bologna Process
- The Regulation of Standards in Higher Education
- Theories of Educational Leadership
- Tracking and Detracking
- Transitions in Early Childhood Education
- University Faculty Roles and Responsibilities in the Unite...
- Using Ethnography in Educational Research
- Value of Higher Education for Students and Other Stakehold...
- Vocational and Technical Education
- Women's and Gender Studies