Mastering Multiple Literacies

Cultural, media learning supports foundational skills.

Topics: Literacy, Curriculum and Instruction

Kaylen Tucker, Ph.D.

The landscape for teaching reading is shifting. According to Education Week reporting, 29 states and the District of Columbia had passed laws or policies related to evidence-based reading—the science of reading—as of July 2022. And more recently, schools and districts have seen a sharp uptick in challenges to the books to which students have access in schools. As a result, principals, who support classroom instruction and are responsible for creating a culturally responsive school climate where students feel valued, must manage the impact of both the “reading wars” and the “culture wars.”

In putting this issue on literacy together, key topics such as the science of reading, early literacy, and leveraging digital texts were top of mind. And although its importance can’t be understated, reading comprehension is only one of many “literacies” students are expected to possess today. This issue focuses on critical literacies such as cultural responsiveness, media literacy, and a renewed emphasis on social studies. The feature articles make the case that civic and media literacy are integral to reading proficiency. “What better way to hone reading comprehension than to have students explore primary source materials, grapple with current issues, and gain information literacy skills?” writes iCivics Chief Education Officer Emma Humphries in “Educating for Civic Engagement” (see full article on page 22).

What can principals do to help young readers connect the dots? Massachusetts principal Liz Garden argues that school leaders should “go the extra mile on behalf of books by diverse authors” by expanding book choices for themselves and for their schools, then encourage courageous conversations to promote critical thinking and social-emotional learning (see “Better Living Through Books” on page 32).

As lead learners in schools, principals are uniquely positioned to foster instruction that helps students reach their potential and beyond. Focusing on multiple literacies complements a whole-child approach to learning and sets up all students for success in the classroom and outside of it.

–Kaylen Tucker, Ph.D.