The Brothers and Sisters Learn to Write

ebook Popular Literacies in Childhood and School Culture · Language and Literacy

By Anne Haas Dyson

cover image of The Brothers and Sisters Learn to Write

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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 such as 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.

"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

"This book is unique in that it features students who draw on the cultural experiences of the Black church, sister and brother play–family games, rap, and Black popular music. It should be ideal in courses on literacy learning."

— Arnetha Ball, School of Education, Stanford University

The Brothers and Sisters Learn to Write