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By Marian R Whitehead

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The first three books are focused on children as they move through compulsory schooling, but the following principles, reflected in all of them, apply to much younger children speaking first languages other than English, as well as to any form of early years setting. This must go deeper than vague goodwill or tolerance. It means that we have to create environments in which children find their languages and cultures welcomed and reflected in photographs, signs, pictures, fabrics, equipment and play materials.

They were also the holders of a group’s beliefs about human origins, values and moral behaviour as well as handy little rules of thumb about anything, from child-rearing to weather forecasts: Spare the rod and spoil the child. Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning. qxd 32 07/02/2006 14:16 Page 32 DEVELOPING LANGUAGE AND LITERACY WITH YOUNG CHILDREN groups still go on making sense of shared experiences and forging group assumptions. The dynamic struggle to shape the stories and, therefore, the meanings of a culture, is found in contemporary media, politics and popular entertainment.

His sister was telling herself the story of Meg and Mog (Nicoll and Pienkowski, 1972), from the book, at the age of two years: ‘it’s a lady . . looking at in the mirror . . it’s a mirror . . a jumper . . there’s a coat? . she has to go out? . this is the way to go? . And Dylan at two years and nine months would frequently quote, ‘ ‘‘Oh dear’’, said Thomas’, as he looked through a favourite book (Awdry, 1997). By the age of four the physical maturity of the nervous system and the finer muscle control over the mouth, throat and tongue, and even the presence of teeth, make the young child’s pronunciation of languages very much closer to the adult forms and easier to understand.

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