Teachers College Press

The Brothers and Sisters Learn to Write
Popular Literacies in Childhood and School Cultures

Anne Haas Dyson

Language & Literacy
Pub Date: December 2002, 264 pages

Paperback: $29.95, ISBN: 0807742805
Cloth: $54, ISBN: 0807742813
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"The most significant work that has ever been done in this area. It is superior in every respect and Anne Dyson writes like a dream."
Tom Newkirk, University of New Hampshire

"The topics in this book are timely and promise to make important contributions to the field of literacy education."
Arnetha Ball, School of Education, Stanford University

Building on her groundbreaking work in Writing Superheroes, Anne Dyson traces the influence of a wide-ranging set of "textual toys" from children’s lives—church and hip-hop songs, rap music, movies, TV, traditional jump-rope rhymes, the words of professional sports announcers and radio deejays—upon school learning and writing. Wonderfully rich portraits of five African American first-graders demonstrate how children’s imaginative use of wider cultural symbols enriches their school learning.

Featuring lively and engaging vignettes of children who are often left behind by our educational system, this book:

  • Provides a detailed view of written language development from inside a particular childhood culture.
  • Shows that children bring a rich folk culture to school and demonstrates how they "remix" their cultural references to accommodate school tasks like writing.
  • Turns the traditional educational view inside out by starting from inside a child’s culture and looking out toward the demands of school, rather than starting on the outside of the child and looking in.
  • Provides concrete examples of how children’s cultural literacy practices translate into classroom practices and, in turn, into practices of academic success.

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