Peers as literacy informants: A description of young children's literacy conversations in play

Susan B. Neuman, Kathy Roskos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


From an interactionist perspective, children's learning is influenced by the social context, through their collaboration with adults and more capable peers as well as their interaction with culturally developed "tools." To examine these influences, this study reports on the functions of preschoolers' literacy-based verbal exchanges in a print-enriched play environment. Play settings in two preschool classrooms were reorganized and enriched with print materials and literacy-related props. Children's play behavior was recorded through extensive observations over a 2-month period. From these data, 67 literacy-related conversational episodes were isolated and systematically content analyzed. Three types of discourse about literacy were identified in the play context: children's conversations focused on designating the names of literacy-related objects, on negotiating meaning related to a literacy topic, and on coaching another child in some literacy task in order to achieve a goal in play. Results suggest that children's collaborative engagement in literacy through play may have an important influence on their developing understanding of written language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-248
Number of pages16
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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