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The book begins with a brief overview of the recent key national policies and initiatives that have had a significant impact on the teaching of reading and writing at the preschool level. Renowned and respected authors Vukelich, Christie, and Enz describe a continuum of approaches to reading instruction, ranging from emergent literacy to Scientifically-Based Reading Research. They also present their vision of a “blended” approach to teaching literacy that includes the best elements of these diverging views. The authors end this introduction with a set of principles to guide the effective teaching of literacy in preschool and kindergarten classrooms.
A Letter to Students from the Authors
Helping Young Children Learn Language and Literacy, 2nd edition, is about teaching the language arts –about facilitating reading, writing, speaking, and listening development for children, ages birth through kindergarten. It is intended for preservice and inservice preschool and kindergarten teachers and administrators. The first edition of our book was written in late 1990s and was heavily influenced by the emergent literacy perspective that was dominant at the time. This constructivist view maintains that the best way to teach early literacy is to provide settings and experiences that provide rich, meaningful experiences with language and print. Key emergent literacy strategies include extended classroom discourse, print-rich environments, shared reading, shared writing, and literacy-enriched play. We still believe that these strategies form the core of an effective early literacy program. However, over that past decade, a series of significant national educational events have impacted early literacy education, including the standards movement, No Child Left Behind legislation, and the use of scientifically-based reading research to make curricular and instructional decisions. The new second edition of our book reflects these important new trends and explains how this new skills-based approach to literacy instruction can be integrated with the earlier constructivist perspective. We advocate blending scientifically-based reading research with the emergent literacy perspective to create a ‘value added’ approach to language and literacy teaching and learning. The second edition contains new content focusing on the “core” knowledge and skills that young children must have to become successful readers: oral vocabulary, phonological awareness, and alphabet knowledge. Vignettes demonstrate how these skills are directly and systematically taught to young children. We also provide examples of how emergent literacy strategies such as shared reading and shared writing are being used in these same classrooms. We believe that this type of balanced approach to early literacy instruction is the best way to prepare young children to become successful readers and writers.
We think that you will find our book to be very user friendly. We provide definitions for key terms and study questions at the beginnings of each chapter and concise summaries at the end. We provide many vignettes, case studies, and “trade secret” examples from master teachers to make learning and teaching come to life. Each chapter ends with a “Linking Knowledge to Practice” feature that helps connect research and theory with the practices that you will observe in preschool and kindergarten classrooms.
We hope our text finds its way into your professional library and will become a helpful resource for you as you develop or continue your development as a professional educator.
Carol, Jim, and Billie
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