The Children's Literature Hour: A Social-Constructivist Approach to Family Literacy

Susan B. Neuman, Donna Celano, Robyn Fischer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pursued from a social-constructivist perspective, this study reports the results of a series of peer group discussions with adolescent parents enrolled in a family literacy program. The purpose of these discussions was to provide opportunities for learners to critically reflect on their goals and their literacy strengths and needs, as well as their needs for their children. We engaged a total of 18 adolescent mothers in 1-hour discussion sessions of multicultural children's literature books. Analysis of the conversations indicated that literacy was seen as important because it served as a tool to address economic and social concerns. Parents’ goals for themselves focused on independence, being a role model to their children, and self-respect. For their children, they wished to convey a sense of cultural pride, independence from peer pressure, and a “gift of childhood.” The social aspects of the discussions seemed to strengthen and expand the possibilities for meaningful interaction between parents, creating a space for discourses which included their shared realities. It is suggested that family literacy programs should build on these issues and be context specific, working collaboratively with participants to create new visions that challenge the status quo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-523
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Literacy Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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