"Hidden Worlds" offers a new way of thinking about literacy. It takes a fresh perspective on home-school learning, arguing that it is not so much the children's experiences that count, but rather what they make of them - with support from adults and peers. The book tells the stories of six young children from different cultural backgrounds who all attend the same nursery and are busily engaged in the process of becoming literate. Jamie's family have lived in the same area for generations, Asif's have recently arrived from Bangladesh, Monique's grandparents came to the UK from Jamaica. Each child's experiences of literacy are unique and specific to their family history and relationships. All the children drew on familiar home experiences to make a link with the new world of literacy learning offered by the nursery. While some successfully found a pathway through, others struggled. The book examines the factors that contributed to this process. It challenges stereotypes by penetrating the private worlds of literacy learning in families. It demonstrates children's agency and creativity in drawing on previous knowledge to make sense of new experiences of literacy and suggests ways that practitioners can support them. It offers an accessible framework for identifying the complexity of literacy learning and the invisible influences that make each child's experience unique. It challenges over simplified views of literacy and identifies the implications of a more individualized approach for policy and practice. The book will be essential reading for early years practitioners, teachers, particularly those with responsibility for literacy or diversity and inclusion, students, teacher educators and policy makers in the area of early years and/or literacy learning.
Dr Clare Kelly is lecturer in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, specialising in language and literacy, particularly in relation to cultural diversity and multilingualism.