This is the stuff that identities are made of

Children learning with grandparents and other elders

Authored by: Rachel Heydon , Xiaoxiao Du

The Routledge International Handbook of Learning with Technology in Early Childhood

Print publication date:  February  2019
Online publication date:  February  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138308169
eBook ISBN: 9781315143040
Adobe ISBN:


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We are two literacy education researchers with a keen interest in literacies across skipped generations (e.g., young children and grandparents). Rachel has been studying and supporting formal intergenerational learning programs since 2003, and Xiaoxiao became interested in intergenerational literacies when findings from a study on a different topic pointed to their relevance. We thus teamed up in this chapter to provide a flavor of diverse intergenerational literacy practices in contemporary times and highlight central lessons about the affordances of ethnographic methods for conceptualizing and considering literacy. To these ends, we offer data from two studies: Xiaoxiao’s investigation into the multilingual literacy learning opportunities across domains in the lives of Chinese children in Canada, and Rachel’s inquiry into the integration of digital tools in an intergenerational art program in the United States. The chapter begins with a story of Rachel and her grandfather to contextualize the literature on literacy that has been foundational to our work. We then discuss our conceptions of literacy and ethnography, illustrate the above through the examples from our studies, and close with take-aways for research practice.

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