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1 - Introduction

Literacy Development – A Global Perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 November 2023

Ludo Verhoeven
Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
Sonali Nag
University of Oxford
Charles Perfetti
University of Pittsburgh
Kenneth Pugh
Yale University, Connecticut
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In this introductory chapter, we examine the worldwide distribution of literacy, its development with schooling, and the sources of individual variation in literacy outcomes. Various perspectives on global variation are discussed while also aiming for a common framework to describe literacy development that recognizes demographic boundaries in the world, on the one hand, and its global variation as a function of bio-ecological markers on the other hand. In this introduction, we draw attention to the wealth of recent research on variations in literacy development that arise across regions and that reflect the multiple interrelated influences of individual, home, school, and societal factors. Furthermore, observations on the neurobiological and ecological markers related to global literacy are discussed. These include the role of writing systems, genetics, brain foundations, self-regulation, and sociocultural, contextual, teacher, and parental factors in global literacy development. An explanatory framework is also provided showing that literacy development involves gaining reading fluency and spelling to facilitate reading comprehension and writing, that it builds on language, and that child characteristics and home- and school-support factors combine to influence individual variation, within an indirectly influential sociopolitical context.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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