Emergent Literacy

“For 3- to 5-year-olds, the imagery and default mode networks mature late, and take practice to integrate with the rest of the brain,” Hutton explains. “With animation you may be missing an opportunity to develop them.”

When we read to our children, they are doing more work than meets the eye. “It’s that muscle they’re developing bringing the images to life in their minds.”

Hutton’s concern is that in the longer term, “kids who are exposed to too much animation are going to be at risk for developing not enough integration.”


The other day I posted about “emergent propaganda” in which the idea of propaganda that emerges from a particular environment. Now, this about “emergent literacies” in which skills to read and write technology emerges from the environments that we provide for kids.

As an educator, this makes me think of scaffolding, yet there seems to be a difference – in the example here, kids are going to grow and advance regardless of the scaffolding present or not. There’s a larger context here apart from any given learning goal.

Anyway, the takeaways in this paper, for me at least, is that books (especially children’s books) will never go away completely, and that in rushing kids too much into digital environments at a young age parents might miss opportunities to develop robust literacy skills in their children.

Literacy Ataxia: Overwhelmed by the demands of processing language, without enough practice, they may also be less skilled at forming mental pictures based on what they read, much less reflecting on the content of a story.


The story about this paper is worth a read (via the Katexic newsletter):



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