Black Communications and Learning to Read by Terry Meier Summary
This book is about effective literacy instruction for students in grades K-4 who use the language variety that many linguists call African American English, but which, as explained in the Introduction, the author calls Black Communications (BC). Throughout, considerable attention is given to discussing the integral and complex interconnections among African American language, culture, and history, drawing significantly on examples from African American historical and literary sources. Although it is theoretical in its description of the BC system and its discussion of research on language socialization in African American communities, the major focus of this book is pedagogy. Many concrete examples of successful classroom practices are included so that teachers can readily visualize and use the strategies and principles presented. *Part I, ‘What is Black Communications?” presents an overview of the BC system, providing a basic introduction to the major components of the language—phonology, grammar, lexicon, and pragmatics, and illustrating how these components work in synchrony to create a coherent whole. *Part II, “Language Socialization in the African American Discourse Community,” examines existing research on African American children’s language socialization. *Part III, “Using African American Children’s Literature,” draws connections between strategy instruction and the linguistic and rhetorical abilities discussed in Part II. Each chapter ends with suggestions for using African American literature to help children develop their speaking and writing abilities. *Part IV, “Children Using Language,” moves from a focus on teaching comprehension strategies to helping BC speakers learn to decode text. This volume is directed to researchers, faculty, and graduate students in the fields of language and literacy education and linguistics, and is well-suited as a text for graduate-level courses in these areas.