Building Literacy Instruction From Children’s Sociocultural Worlds


concerning this article should be addressed to Victoria Purcell-Gates, Department of Language and Literacy, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, 2125 Main Mall, 304 B Scarfe Hall, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4; e-mail:


Abstract— This article demonstrates that children’s language and literacy development shares an inextricable relationship with their social and cultural worlds. Cultural factors always shape the ways different communities engage in reading and writing. Young English language learners bring culturally shaped beliefs and experiences regarding reading and writing to school, where they are taught important beginning literacy skills and practices that may not fit with their previous experiences. This article calls for carefully designed research that explores promising curricular modifications that may increase the early literacy abilities of children from cultural and linguistic backgrounds different from mainstream educational environments.