Families’ roles in children’s literacy in the UK throughout the 20th century

Cathy Nutbrown, Peter Clough, Rachel Levy, Sabine Little, Julia Bishop, Terry Lamb, Dylan Yamada-Rice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the changing roles of families in children’s developing literacy in the UK in the last century. It discusses how, during this time, understandings of reading and writing have evolved into the more nuanced notion of literacy. Further, in acknowledging changes in written communication practices, and shifting attitudes to reading and writ- ing, the paper sketches out how families have always played some part in the literacy of younger generations; though reading was frequently integral to the lives of many families throughout the past century, we consider in particular the more recent enhancement of children’s literacy through targeted family programmes. The paper considers policy implications for promoting young children’s literacy through work with families.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-569
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Early Childhood Literacy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2016

Bibliographical note

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).


  • Literacy
  • reading
  • writing
  • family literacy
  • early childhood
  • young children

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