Guiding literacy;Reviews;General;Primary

29th May 1998 at 01:00
The Early Intervention Handbook: Intervention in Literacy. By Greg McMillan and Moira Leslie. City of Edinburgh Council pound;9.99.

The Foundation of Literacy: the child's acquisition of the alphabetic principle. By Brian Byrne. Psychology Press pound;19.95.

Developing Children's Minds through Literacy and Numeracy. By Terezinha Nunes. Institute of Education, London pound;3.

The Early Intervention Handbook is a practical guide to helping young children with reading problems and deserves a place on the bookshelf of every primary English co-ordinator. The approach has been well trialled and is based on up-to-date ideas about phonological skills as well as Reading Recovery approaches. What it is short of, vis-a-vis English and Welsh requirements, is anything on more traditional phonics and graphic knowledge. Nevertheless, definitely recommended.

The Foundations of Literacy, although an academic mono-graph, is accessible and relevant. It discusses some Australian research about the importance of letter knowledge, of children understanding how letter-strings represent spoken words and about how print can become self-pronouncing. The book should be required reading for primary English lecturers and MEd students. Brian Byrne's work is world class. He concludes: "If we want children to understand the alphabetic principle underpinning English orthography, we should tell them aboutit."

Developing Children's Minds through Literacy and Numeracy is the text of Professor Nunes's inaugural lecture and, as such, reports from the coal face to a non-specialist audience. She works in the cognitive psychological tradition of Piaget and Bruner, and argues that literacy and numeracy can be taught so as merely to enable children to read and write and cipher by rule and recipe. But they should be taught in a way that creates new objects of thought and provides children with new tools for thinking.

Nicholas Bielby

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