Play as the Literacy of Children

Imagining Otherwise in Contemporary Childhoods

Authored by: Karen E. Wohlwend

Theoretical Models and Processes of Literacy

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  October  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138087262
eBook ISBN: 9781315110592
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter, I examine play as a literacy of children—made by children for children—and argue for early childhood research and teaching that attends to the meanings children make for themselves and one another in contemporary times. First, a definition: Play is a set of imaginative practices through which players voluntarily engage to suspend the conventional meanings in the surrounding physical context and agree to replace these with pretend meanings for their own purposes, with transformative potential for their participation in home, peer, school, media, and digital cultures (Wohlwend, 2013). During play, children produce action-based stories and imaginary scenarios by enacting pretend identities with bodies or by animating toys, props, and other materials that enable players to virtually inhabit a shared pretend context.

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