Promoting first-language development and maintenance and capitalizing on ‘funds of knowledge’ in family literacy programmes

Authored by: Jim Anderson , Ann Anderson , Harini Rajagopal

The Routledge International Handbook of early Literacy Education

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138787889
eBook ISBN: 9781315766027
Adobe ISBN: 9781317659204


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Although there is converging evidence that family literacy programmes enhance young children’s language and literacy learning and benefit their parents, they have been criticized on the grounds that they privilege the dominant language and fail to capitalize on families’ funds of knowledge. Responding to this criticism, educators have developed bilingual family literacy programmes. In this chapter, we first review the empirical literature on bilingual family literacy, revealing that such programmes positively contribute to young children’s early literacy learning while promoting families’ maintaining their home languages. Then, we report on a collaboratively developed family literacy programme called Parents As Literacy Supporters in Immigrant Communities that was implemented with more than 500 families from four linguistic groups in five communities in a metropolitan area of Canada. We conclude by discussing the implications of the research and raise lingering concerns and issues that need ongoing attention.

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