Language, Literacy and Early Childhood Education

Second Edition

Janet Fellowes, Grace Oakley

Language, Literacy and Early Childhood Education

Second Edition

Janet Fellowes, Grace Oakley






5 Nov 2014




$94.95 AUD

$108.99 NZD

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Language, Literacy and Early Childhood Education is a comprehensive textbook for pre-service and practising educators. Focusing on language and literacy development and learning in children from birth to the age of eight, the book encompasses four main early childhood settings: the family and community, childcare, the preschool years, and the early years of school. 

Making explicit links to the Early Years Learning Framework and the Australian Curriculum, this text is based on current research and theoretical perspectives, and includes practical strategies and activities to equip educators with the knowledge and skills they need to effectively support young children’s learning of language and literacy.

Key Features

  • Emphasis on the key areas of oral language, reading, writing and children’s literature
  • Clearly presented links to the Early Years Learning Framework and the Australian Curriculum
  • Toolboxes of teaching strategies and ideas that can be implemented in a range of settings
  • Review questions and activities for each topic, to encourage self-assessment.

New to this edition

  • Appendix A: Compendium of Teaching Strategies and Activities for Language and Literacy
  • Appendix B: Test Your Language and Literacy Knowledge
  • Pause and reflect sections: questions to prompt readers to stop and reflect on important topics
  • Professional insights features: relevant examples from theory, research and practice
    Additional learning activities and questions to promote deeper understanding and improved practice
  • New references to international research in all chapters
  • Additional material on children from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds
  • Coverage of contemporary trends in literacy education such as visual literacy, multimodal and digital literacy
  • Revised chapters on ICT and Children’s Literature.


1 Introduction to Literacy: Definitions and Theoretical Perspectives

Defining literacy

Theoretical perspectives on literacy

Affective factors and young children’s literacy learning


2 Understanding Oral Language


Language and communication

Language and speech

Expressive (productive) and receptive modes

Properties of language

Components of spoken language

Language is functional

Language register

Listening (receptive language)

Language and culture

Language variations

3 Oral Language: Perspectives and Phases

Theoretical perspectives on oral language learning

Phases, stages and milestones of oral language development

Bilingual and multilingual language learners

4 Early Childhood Settings and Oral Language Learning and Development


Language development and the home setting

Language development and the childcare setting

Language development and the preschool setting

Language development and the early years of the primary school setting

5 Key Early Childhood Learning Contexts for Oral Language

Play and oral language

Reading aloud to children


Conversations and discussions


6 Learning Experiences and Activities for Speaking and Listening

Introduction: Important considerations

Speaking and listening activities

Activities with a listening focus

Drama as a medium for speaking and listening development

7 Language, Thinking and Learning

Cognition and language

Language use and brain development

The relationship between language and cognition

Inner speech and thinking

Language and learning

Questioning for cognition and learning

8 Assessing Speaking and Listening

Assessment issues in Early Childhood

What needs to be assessed?

The components of language

Collecting data about children’s oral language

Documentation of oral language learning

Interpreting the information gathered about oral language


9 Understanding Reading

Defining reading

Foundational knowledge for reading

Knowledge about text purposes

Phonological awareness

Knowledge about letters and sounds

Letter–sound relationships

Word recognition: Phases of development

Sight words

Reading development

Perspectives on how to teach reading

Child-initiated or educator-initiated literacy learning?

10 Phonological Awareness, Letters, Sounds and Sight Words

Phonological awareness

Teaching phonological awareness

Principles for teaching phonological awareness

Assessment of phonological awareness

Teaching about letter–sound relationships

What do children need to know about letter–sound relationships?

Suggested sequences for teaching phonics

Principles of phonics teaching

Strategies and games for teaching phonics

Working with letters and sounds

Assessment of letter–sound knowledge

Teaching sight words

Strategies for teaching sight words

Assessment of sight-word knowledge

11 Vocabulary for Reading and Writing

What do we mean by vocabulary?

Why is vocabulary important in reading and writing?

How does vocabulary develop?

Levels of vocabulary knowledge

How can vocabulary learning be facilitated in the early years?

Indirect instruction

Explicit vocabulary instruction

Word study

Word sorts/classifications

Purposeful strategic conversations

Using dictionaries

Using contextual cues

Teaching word consciousness

Some principles for vocabulary teaching

Assessment of vocabulary knowledge

Toolbox of Vocabulary Strategies

12 Strategies for Teaching Reading

Pedagogical strategies for supporting reading

Reading aloud to children

Shared reading

Guided reading

Language Experience Approach

Buddy reading

Independent reading

Reciprocal teaching

Literature circles

Matching texts to children

Finding out about children’s reading interests

13 Reading for Comprehension


How can reading comprehension be defined?

What does a child need to know and do to comprehend a text?

Reading comprehension: Suggested developmental pathway

‘Levels’ of comprehension

Strategic processes for comprehension

Teaching comprehension processes and strategies

Comprehension of informational texts

Providing appropriate texts

Vocabulary for reading

Comprehension of multimodal texts

Good practice recommendations

Assessment of reading comprehension

Toolbox of Comprehension Strategies

14 Developing Reading Fluency

What is reading fluency?

Elements of reading fluency

Why is reading fluency important?

Fluency development

Key practices for fostering reading fluency

Improving the elements of fluency

Improving expressiveness

Using ICTs to teach reading fluency

Pulling it all together

Assisting struggling readers

Assessment of reading fluency

What not to do

Toolbox of Fluency Strategies


15 Introduction to Writing

Written communication

Four components of writing

The physical aspect of writing

Writing traits

The writing process

Children’s growth in written communication

Using the phases of writing development

16 Writing Purpose and Text organisation


Writing purpose


Written texts

Types of texts

Teaching about texts: Beginning and emergent

Teaching about texts in the early years of school

17 The Writing Conventions: Grammar and Punctuation

Writing conventions

What is grammar?

Oral language and grammar as a prelude to writing

Understanding English grammar


Teaching about the writing conventions

18 Spelling and Handwriting

The importance of good spelling

The English orthographic system

Spelling knowledge

Spelling strategies

Children’s spelling development

Invented spelling

Teaching spelling

Spelling activities

Spelling journals

Spelling lessons

Spelling and editing


19 Key Strategies for Teaching Writing


Modelled writing

Shared writing

Working with texts produced in modelled or shared writing

Interactive writing

Language Experience Approach

Guided writing

Independent writing

The teaching strategies in use

20 Writing Experiences and Activities

The emergence of writing

Supporting the emergence of writing

Supporting children’s further progress as writers

Developing writing lessons for children in the early years of school

Establishing the stimulus for writing activities

21 Assessing and Evaluating Writing

What to assess?

Collecting information about children’s writing


Assessment of writing interest and motivation


22 Children’s Literature by Helen Adam

What is children’s literature?

The place of literature in the curriculum

Laying the foundations

Response to literature

Creating a positive environment for dynamic literary response

23 Visual and Critical Literacy


Defining critical literacy

Visual literacy and its importance in the 21st century

Defining viewing or visual literacy

Broad approaches to teaching viewing

Suggested themes for critical and visual literacy

Assessment of visual literacy

24 Language, Literacy and Information and Communication Technologies

Young children and ICTs


Using ICTs to further young children’s literacy learning

ICTs to help children learn sight words, comprehension and fluency

Writing using ICTs

ICT-based concept mapping for reading and writing

Using the web

Interactive whiteboards

ICTs and safety concerns

25 Connecting with Families

Family literacy practices

Family literacy practices and emerging literacy

Oral language as a component of family literacy

Family literacy and emergent literacy

Family literacy diversity

Family literacy initiatives

Parent–educator partnerships

The benefits of parent–educator partnerships

Partnership practices

Working with families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

26 Planning for Language and Literacy

The learning program

The literacy-enriched environment

Language and literacy programs for the different early childhood settings

The informed early childhood professional

Appendix A: Compendium of Teaching Strategies and Activities for Language and Literacy

Appendix B: Test Your Language and Literacy Knowledge


Janet Fellowes - Senior Lecturer, School of Education, Edith Cowan University 
Grace Oakley - Associate Professor/Primary Program Course Coordinator Graduate School of Education, University of Western Australia 

Helen Adam - Lecturer, School of Education, Edith Cowan University

Sample Pages

Read a sample chapter from Language, Literacy and Early Childhood Education:


Review of the first edition

"Language, Literacy and Early Childhood Education is a valuable text, of benefit to both pre-service teachers and to early childhood practitioners in under-five settings and for educators in the first years of school. It is contemporary in its approach and very practical in its orientation, while the ideas suggested for the support of young children's developing language and literacy competency are grounded in established theoretical perspectives and solid research. This book is an excellent resource and I applaud the authors for their work." 
Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 2013