Can Technology Support Emergent Reading and Writing? Directions for the Future

Authored by: Lea M. McGee , Donald J. Richgels

International Handbook of Literacy and Technology

Print publication date:  April  2006
Online publication date:  January  2013

Print ISBN: 9780805850871
eBook ISBN: 9780203929131
Adobe ISBN: 9781135609580


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The purpose of this chapter is to explore the role that technology might play in supporting the literacy development of preschool children. We deliberately choose to focus this chapter only on children in preschool rather than children in the broader age ranges usually associated with emergent reading and writing. That is, many children beyond preschool age—in kindergarten and even in early first grade—are not yet reading or writing conventionally; they are children considered emergent readers and writers. However, we will argue that the literacy accomplishments and instructional needs of preschoolers, while overlapping with emergent readers and writers in kindergarten and even in first grade, are not precisely the same as those of children beyond preschool. In this chapter, we explore the unique contributions that technology might make for children in the very early stages of literacy development before they reach kindergarten and experience today’s press toward convention, and before they develop the foundational early literacy accomplishments that are often requirements for other uses of technology (for example, see McKenna, Labbo, and Reinking’s 2003 description of nonreaders’ ability to read electronic text or LEP children’s use of speech-synthesizer software to read invented spellings). We wish to make clear that we will not review current research on computer usage with preschool children, mostly because there is so little research in this area. Nor will we critique current software programs aimed at preschool literacy, although we will make some comments about some pieces of software where appropriate. Rather, we will speculate on technology that would be useful in supporting and extending preschoolers’ emergent reading and writing that we hope will be available in the future.

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