Haking the Very Foundations of Emergent Literacy: Book Reading Versus Phonemicawareness Essay
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SHAKING THE VERY FOUNDATIONS O F EMERGENT LITERACY
Shaking the Very Foundations of Emergent Literacy: Book Reading Versus Phonemic Awareness
Recent reviews of research have called into question a widespread and universally accepted practice associated with the emergent literacy perspective-the practice of reading aloud to children. At the same time, extensive research on children's development of phonemic awareness and its role in future reading achievement has prompted researchers to recommend that preschool and kindergarten programs include direct instruction in phonemic awareness, letter+ound associations, and word decoding. In this chapter I trace the historical tension between these two approaches to early literacy instruction. Discussed is research that downplays the role of reading aIoud for children's literacy development as well as research that emphasizes the role of phonemic awareness. Finally, I examine recommendations from the National Research Council presented in Preventing Reading Dificulties in Young Children (Snow, Bums, & Griffin, 1998) for insights into resolving these tensions.
Three teachers shift nervously in their seats in a large conference room prior to the beginning of an important meeting in their school district. They talk together quietly as they prepare to present a preliminary report on early literacy curriculum and instruction to the larger committee that will meet this morning. The purpose of the committee is to establish policies for prekindergarten programs in their system. The teachers are anxious about their presentation because as they were preparing their report, they discovered research about early literacy instmction that was contradictory to their current beliefs about early childhood education. They worked hard to prepare a report that they felt adequately represented the research on early