Photo property of K. Paciga. Do not reuse without permission.

New ILA Position Statement on Early Childhood Literacy Learning with Digital Tools

The International Literacy Association “empower[s] educators, inspire[s] students, and encourage[s] leaders with the resources they need to make literacy accessible for all.” Today, ILA launched a new position statement and research brief that positions digital resources as texts that must be integrated, explored, and created in early childhood.

The statement’s thesis is this: Careful, intentional, and developmentally appropriate use of digital texts and tools can build young children’s language and literacy skills while providing young children with opportunities to deepen their understanding about the forms and functions of digital text in meaning making. In other words, there must be screens available in early childhood contexts, but there also must be significant efforts to move beyond the practice of using screens and the media they offer only as tools for consuming information. To this end, you’ll find a brief summary of the policy and research around digital tools in early childhood and some guidelines that practitioners can use to shape their efforts to ensure that children’s literacy development also includes what it means to read, write, speak, and listen in a world that utilizes digital tools.

Two children sitting at iMac desktop computer wired with Proscope microscope. They are investigating pine needles, branches, leaves, bark, and pine cones they've collected from their school campus.
Two children in the Whales Kindergarten classroom at the Early Learning Community at Pacific University use digital tools to help them understand the natural elements on their campus. [Photo property of K.Paciga. Do not reuse without permission.]

Over the next several months we’ll publish here focus pieces on each of the four guidelines offered in the position statement. You’ll be able to read a vignette and we’ll offer additional parent and practitioner pieces to support you in your efforts to do this is important work. If we are to have young children who grow up to read, write, and communicate through digital means we must intentionally share with them from early on the ways in which we ourselves, as a society of people who utilize digital tools and resources to engage themselves in democracy, make digitally-mediated meaning.

About the author

Katie Paciga

Katie A. Paciga, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Education at Columbia College Chicago. She studies early language and literacy development and children's media.

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