Literacy is often understood as the acquisition of individual skills and knowledge. In this essay, I explore different approaches to understanding literacy that focus on social meaning-making and action. Drawing on historical examples of literacy learning and my recent experiences in a community-wide reading program focused on Julia Alvarez’s (1994) In the Time of the Butterflies, I use the concept of “carrying stories” to reflect on how literacy learning can be collective and transformative for self and society.

Author Bio

Deborah Vriend Van Duinenis an Associate Professor of English Education at Hope College and Director of the NEA Big Read Lakeshore, a community-wide reading program. In her work with preservice teachers, she emphasizes inquiry-based teaching and reflective practices. Deborah writes and teaches in the area of English education, disciplinary literacy, young adult literature and adolescent literacy.



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