The Foundation of Literacy
The Child's Acquisition of the Alphabetic Principle
By Brian Byrne
Psychology Press – 1998 – 174 pages
This monograph brings together important research that the author and his colleagues at the University of New England have been conducting into the early stages of reading development, and makes a valuable contribution to the debate about literacy education. It should appeal to a broad audience since it is written in an entertaining and accessible style, with chapter summaries, and where appropriate short tutorials in relevant topics, in particular Learnability Theory (Chapter 1), levels of language structure (Chapter 2) and writing systems (Chapter 2).
It will be of interest to experimental psychologists concerned with the reading process, developmental psychologists interested in cognitive growth, educational psychologists interested in the application of experimental methods in the classroom situation, and teachers and teacher educators.
'This is a very good book Byrne states in his preface that his aim in writing the book was to appeal to a wide audience: researchers in psychology, teacher educators and teachers themselves. Because he is such a beautiful writer he has succeeded admirably This book is essential reading for anyone interested in literacy development.' - Rhona Stainthorp, London University Institute of Education in First Language vol. 20 2000
'Beautifully written … In a wide ranging yet highly readable account, the author provides an up-to-date summary of his findings in pre-schoolers and children up to Grade 3 … Over a series of meticulously crafted experiments, Professor Byrne concludes that of all phonemic skills, the ability to identify phoneme constancy - that is the ability to determine that two words share a common phoneme - is the critical factor … The monograph is a model of clarity, with clear summaries and recapitulations throughout and useful tutorials for the varied audience at which this book is aimed. It offers a fascinating insight into the mind of the novice reader.' - Uta Frith (MRC Cognitive Development Unit, London)
'I liked it a lot. It is a clear and exciting account of a valuable sequence of studies on how children come to grips with the alphabet and how they learn to use it effectively and to understand its uses. The writing is simple and direct, and always entertaining. It should interest a lot of people' - Peter Bryant (Oxford Univesity)
'This book will be a very worthy addition to a series which has established a high reputation. It has all the best attributes of a research monograph, that is, it is a highly focused piece of advocacy in which Byrne has a point to make and marshals his evidence in an entirely convincing way.' - Alan Kennedy (University of Dundee)
Definitions, Phenomena, Questions and Frameworks. Children's Initial Hypotheses about Alphabetic Script. Induction of the Alphabetic Principle? Instruction in the Alphabetic Principle. Individual Differences. Conclusion and Implications.