Towards the ideal;Primary;Literacy;Reviews;Books

28th May 1999 at 01:00

This is a clear, jargon-free analysis of current national curriculum and national literacy strategy documents, combined with sensible and creative suggestions for implementing them.

Browne takes a critical look at where the emphasis lies in prescribed curriculums, such as the literacy hour (that is, at the word level), and provides a good rationale for resisting mechanistic interpretations of literacy implicit in such a reading of the documentation.

True literacy, she suggests, extends well beyond being "able to read"; children need to become "properly literate" in the richest, more powerful sense.

The first part of the book supports Browne's practical ideas by using recent research evidence to give readers sound principles for what they do in the classroom. The second part shows how those principles can be put into practice and deals thoroughly with such aspects of reading development as the roles of parents and classroom assistants, bilingual children and struggling readers. Assessment practices are clearly described, and planning for activities is usefully systematic.

This book has some of the limitations of guide books. The practical ideas cannot be described fully. What we get are bullet points which will help teachers think about activities and materials and check that strategies and texts are in place. But the activities are imaginative, consistent and true to the author's ideal of a full and empowering critical literacy for all children.

Carol Fox

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