About this book

Written for teacher education students and teachers working in early childhood settings, Developing early literacy: Assessment and teaching, 2nd edn, is a handbook for understanding and teaching early literacy.

The second edition of this book incorporates current findings from research on the teaching of language, literature and literacy.

For a summary of each chapter in the second edition

Key features
  • New content with links to the Australian Curriculum: English, and the Early Years Learning Framework.
  • Evidence-based assessment procedures for improving early language, reading and writing.
  • Practical examples of teaching strategies in action in a range of classrooms and settings.
  • Further information on oral language and its links to reading and writing.
  • More information on vocabulary and on the development of comprehension strategies.

What’s new?

View the book’s Annotated Contents, which highlights what’s new in the second edition:
Click here to download: Second Edition Annotated Contents

Child reading

Chapter by chapter: the second edition


1 Developing early literacy
This chapter includes new information on recent reports and major reviews into different approaches to teaching early literacy and the importance of differentiated instruction. This chapter combines a child-centred learning focus along with an evidence-based approach where educators gather evidence by using a range of early literacy assessment procedures.

Part 1: The foundations

2 Oral language
This chapter provides new content on the important connections between oral language and reading and writing. Features include overview tables with grammatical terms, definitions and examples; examples of oral language text structures, features and teaching activities to promote a range of different oral language such as news talk, descriptions, reports, narratives, explanations and debates. New information on vocabulary development and ways to assess children’s vocabulary development, syntax and narrative development is included.

3 Homes and communities
Family literacy programs, parental involvement and intervention programs are explored in this chapter. Features include recent research into culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) families, dialogic reading techniques and ways to incorporate home learning environments and family funds of knowledge.

Part 2: Scaffolding literacy development

4 The literacy program
This chapter emphasises the importance of the four roles of a literacy learner to show how teachers model, share, guide and encourage independent reading and writing. Topics covered include reading aloud with literature, big books or the interactive white board and guided reading with instructional texts. A range of literacy teaching strategies for before, during and after lessons to develop reading and writing are provided.

5 Children’s literature
Information on levels of narrative complexity in picture books, visual analysis of picture books and critical literacy is provided in this chapter. Ways to involve children as critics of the visual design of picture books and five different ways that pictures and print interact, which links to the literature strand of the Australian National Curriculum: English, are provided. There is also more on the importance of poetry, rhymes and songs in this second edition.

6 Phonological awareness
This chapter explores how phonological awareness is one of the critical links between oral language and early reading and writing. There are several assessment procedures for phonological awareness. Video clips on the Developing early literacy website are linked to this chapter, providing opportunities for teacher education students to assess children’s phonemic awareness. There is more information on using songs and rhymes to increase children’s phonological awareness in the second edition.

7 Reading development
How to understand a child’s reading development and how to plan for the next step in teaching a child to read remains a focus of this chapter in the second edition. Video clips on the Developing early literacy website are linked to this chapter, providing opportunities for teacher education students to assess children’s concepts of print and reading fluency and to practise taking a record of reading behaviour.

8 Teaching reading
This chapter explores the four roles of a reader to demonstrate how children integrate code breaking, meaning making, being a text critic and text user when reading. Practical teaching strategies are provided.

9 Reading comprehension
This chapter has been completely revised for the second edition with a focus on vocabulary and teaching comprehension strategies with fiction and information texts. This chapter covers teaching comprehension strategies, before, during and after reading. Vocabulary and how to teach vocabulary, the importance of children developing metacognition and new activities for increasing active reading are included. There are suggestions for explicit teaching of the comprehension strategies and a range of assessment procedures.

10 Word work: phonics & 11 Teaching phonics
The content of phonics and different approaches to teaching phonics such as synthetic phonics, analytic phonics, using analogies and whole-to-part phonics are explored in these chapters with a multitude of practical teaching activities.

12 Word work: Spelling
This chapter retains a focus in this second edition on the development of spelling, teaching of spelling and a variety of procedures for assessment of spelling.

13 The development of writing
New information on the development of punctuation and revised content of various approaches to assess the development of children’s writing is included in this chapter. It considers how examples of children’s writing at various stages may be assessed.

14 Teaching children to write
In this second edition, information on the transition from paper-based writing to creating multimodal texts is extended.

15 Reading and writing different text types
This chapter contains updated overviews of different text types language features and teaching activities. New information on the design features of information texts, both paper-based and web-based, is included as well as how to read and write information texts and how to critically analyse information in books and online.

16 Multiliteracies
This chapter is updated with a unit of work showing how teachers can plan, teach and assess children’s multimodal texts according to visual, auditory and print forms of literacy. Includes new information on ebooks and traditional paper books.

17 Teaching English language learners
This chapter has updated references to recent research into children from culturally and linguistically diverse families and communities. The different teaching approaches remain a focus in the second edition.

Part 3: Managing the literacy program

18 Small groups in the collaborative classroom & 19 Planning and managing literacy learning
In these chapters, subject-based, topic or multidisciplinary approaches and inquiry-based approaches to planning for literacy are described with practical examples for classrooms.


1 Dolch’s list of basic sight words
2 Fry’s 300 high-frequency words


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