For decades, research on children's literacy has been dominated by questions of how children learn to read. Especially among Anglophone scholars, cognitive and psycholinguistic research on reading has been the only approach to studying written language education. Echoing this, debates on methods of teaching children to read have long dominated the educational scene. This book presents an alternative view. In recent years, writing has emerged as a central aspect of becoming literate. Research in cognitive psychology has shown that writing is a highly complex activity involving a degree of planning unknown in everyday conversational uses of language. At the same time, developmental studies have revealed that when young children are asked to "write," they show a surprisingly sophisticated understanding of the representational constraints of alphabetic writing systems. They show this understanding long before they can read conventional writing on their own.
The rich structure of meanings involved in the word text provided the glue that brought together a group of scholars from several disciplines in an international workshop held in Rome. Reflecting the state of the field at the time, the majority of the workshop participants were scholars working in languages other than English, especially the romance languages. Their work mirrors a linguistic and psychological research tradition that Anglophone scholars knew little of until recently. This volume provides English-language readers with updated versions of the papers presented at the meeting. The topics discussed at the workshop are represented in the chapters as follows:
* the relationship between acquisition of language and familiarity with written texts;
* the reciprocal "permeability" between spoken and written language;
* the initial phases of text construction by children; and
* the educational conditions that facilitate written language acquisition and writing practice.
"…would serve well as a means for researchers who are familiar with information-processing perspectives on children's writing….covers many topics….is worthy of consideration by anyone who wants to think seriously about how to study children's acquisition of literacy. Readers who are not familiar with the work of this volume's European coeditors and chapter authors will do well to learn what they have been doing."
"…the 18 chapters offer a number of interesting methods of analyzing qualitative data….impressive scope in exploring different cultures, different types of written products, and different aspects of language and discourse."
—American Journal of Psychology
"Children's Early Text Construction explores 'the rich structure of meanings involved in the word text' and represents an important addition to our understandings about children becoming literate…"
—Harvard Educational Review
Contents: C. Pontecorvo, M. Orsolini, L.B. Resnick, Introduction. Part I:Written and Oral Forms in Children's Language. C. Pontecorvo, M. Orsolini, Writing and Written Language in Children's Development. E. Sulzby, Roles of Oral and Written Language as Children Approach Conventional Literacy. M.B.M. Abaurre, The Rhythms of Speech and Writing. M. Orsolini, P. Di Giacinto, Use of Referential Expressions in 4-Year-Old Children's Narratives: Invented Versus Recalled Stories. C. Zucchermaglio, N. Scheuer, Children Dictating a Story: Is Together Better? Part II:Writing as a System of Representation. L.T. Landsmann, Three Accounts of Literacy and the Role of the Environment. J-M. Besse, An Approach to Writing in Kindergarten. E. Ferreiro, C. Pontecorvo, C. Zucchermaglio, PIZZA or PIZA? How Children Interpret the Doubling of Letters in Writing. R. Simone, Reflections on the Comma. E. Ferreiro, C. Zucchermaglio, Children's Use of Punctuation Marks: The Case of Quoted Speech. Part III:Learning Different Uses of Written Language. P. Boscolo, The Use of Information in Expository Text Writing. C. Pontecorvo, R.M. Morani, Looking for Stylistic Features in Children Composing Stories: Products and Processes. A. Teberosky, Informative Texts of Young School Children. L. Tornatore, Uses of Written Language in Primary School: Codifying, Recording, and Interpreting. Part IV:Written Language in Educational Contexts. M.P. Formisano, Literacy in First Grade: Traditional and Experimental Situations. M.P. Conte, L.P. Rampelli, V. Volterra, Deaf Children and the Construction of Written Texts. W.H. Teale, M.G. Martinez, Reading Aloud to Young Children: Teachers' Reading Styles and Kindergartners' Text Comprehension. Y.M. Goodman, Readers' and Writers' Talk About Language.