Researching Early Childhood Literacy in the Classroom: Literacy as a social practice. New book written by Lucy Henning published

Uta Papen and I, the series editors of Routledge Research in Literacy, are very pleased to announce that the publication of this book by Lucy Henning.  We discussed her work back in August here. From the publishers’ description:

This volume demonstrates how the ethnographic approach to research demanded by a ‘Literacy as Social Practice’ perspective can generate fresh insights into what happens when young children engage with schooled literacy tasks.

Researching Early Childhood Literacy in the Classroom argues that the lived experience of young children encountering formal schooled literacy curricula should be the foremost consideration in educational reforms intended to improve rates of literacy acquisition in schools. To make this argument, the author suspends traditional concerns with ‘learning’ and ‘progress’ to concentrate on ‘practice’ and ‘meaning’ in a careful analysis of key classroom incidents. The author concludes that such insights suggest a need for re-considering the assumptions upon which educational policy rests.

This book will be of great interest to graduate and postgraduate students, researchers, academics, and libraries in the fields of Literacy Studies, Teacher Education, Education Policy and Applied Linguistics.

Lucy Henning is Senior Lecturer in English Education at the University of Roehampton. Before joining Roehampton, Lucy worked as a primary class teacher, school literacy lead and a literacy consultant for the Primary National Strategies.

“Making us proud: young children engaging with schooled literacy discourses” new article by Lucy Henning

Dr Lucy Henning, of Roehampton University, has shared with us this link to a free version of her latest article in the Cambridge Journal of Education.  (If the link has expired, write to  Lucy has an book in production with the Routledge Research in Literacy series now co-edited by Uta Papen and myself. Her new book is called “Researching Early Childhood Literacy in the Classroom: Literacy as a social practice.”

Lucy writes, “I am currently doing some work on participant frameworks and young children’s in-class construction of literacy practices away from teaching adults. It similar to the work I did for my book, but now I am hoping to take a more in depth look at how the children organise their interactions as they reproduce their in-class peer culture. I am interested in exploring how far this process can actually be observed happening.

“I am drawing very much on the work of American linguistic anthropologists and ethnographers from the last century to inform this aspect of my work (Charles Goodwin, Marjorie Harness Goodwin, Erving Goffman) – I would be glad to make contact with colleagues whose current work is in a similar field.”

Julia Gillen


3rd International Conference “Literacy and Contemporary Society: Identities, Texts, and Institutions” Nicosia, Cyprus 11-12 October 2019.

I am delighted to share the Call for Papers for this fascinating conference.

The conference  addresses teachers, undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral students, academics, researchers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as other stakeholders interested in the promotion of language and literacy, as well as literacy education; and features keynote speeches by (in alphabetical order) Mike Baynham, Bill Cope, Alexandra Georgakopoulou, and Mary Kalantzis.

poster literacy

For further information, please refer to: and or


Liverpool and the Umbrella Revolution, Hong Kong, 2014

On Friday I gave a talk on the Umbrella Revolution at the wonderful Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art in Manchester.  By the way, if you find yourself in Manchester before 12th May, do go and see their exhibition, “Chinternet Ugly”.  It’s a small but vibrant gallery and this multimedia show is provocative and witty.

I was surprised that most of my audience for the talk, Artistic Layers: The Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong in 2014 came from Liverpool.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have been, since I already knew from the data that there was a strong link between Liverpool and the Umbrella Movement in 2014.  My co-authors are Dr Mandy Hoi Man Yu, Gloria Ho Nga Fan and Selena Ho.  They had advised me that an online “Golden Forum” of young professionals and others in Hong Kong were particularly responsible for the Liverpool link. Of course in a far broader sense it is highly significant that the oldest European Chinatown is in Liverpool.

In Hong Kong in 2014 I could see for myself how inspiring the work of John Lennon was, particularly with reference to pacifism and hope.  I hope you enjoy this selection of relevant images below. I’d love to know more about the link between  the Umbrella Movement and Liverpool so if you can help please email

Advice on getting your journal article published

Literacy Research Discussion Group 23 October 2018

This blog post, originally a handout, was started off by Julia Gillen and then contributed to by other members of the LRC including Uta Papen and David Barton who were also present at the meeting. Many thanks to all those who helped with ideas, questions and responses.

What shall I publish?

You could publish one aspect of your study  such as research design, methodology, literature review (especially if systematic) or a mini study ie outline and response to 1 RQ.  It could be the majority of an MA thesis or discarded chapter of PhD thesis, that is a good piece of work but that better sits outside the coherent final work.

What shall I do before I publish?

Conference papers can be excellent as they move your work along and help you structure it.  You might make useful contacts at a conference and get helpful feedback.  Alternatively, you may be disappointed in the quality of feedback, as audience members are generally listening for their own purposes rather than thinking of helpfulness to you.

Writing retreats help many people.  Don’t pay – organise one yourself!

Where shall I publish?

Chapter in edited book, – advantages & disadvantages  – can be accessed through a call.

Special issue of journal – very good if fits. Similarly, one can respond to calls.

A good aspect about these is that they force you to work to a deadline.

Freestanding journal issue.

Choose journal early as this shapes so much of the process.

Ensure journal is academically respectable, not a predatory journal

Research the journal including aims and scope, previous articles around your topic or methodology, editors and editorial board.

To what extent should we take notice of impact factors?  This is difficult.  Many of us are pressured to go for a journal with an impact factor above 1 or to put it another way, this may be useful in job applications and promotions.  However most agreed it can’t be the only thing that counts including because there might be stronger features that lead you to choose a specific journal.

Is there some overlap between your citations, those of relevant studies even the editorial board? If none, this could be the wrong journal for you.

How shall I write?

Look at models or organisation, structure and voice especially from target journal and significant predecessor studies.

Work out what you have to offer that is new and ensure this is highlighted.

Put the article aside for a while (say a week) so that you can revise with a fresh eye.

Get at least one critical friend to read your article.

Reviewing and submission

Devote attention to the journal’s instructions to authors and every tiny detail of their submission process in respect of text, referencing, structure, cover letter, figures, blinding references etc.  – but be aware these might not be exactly the same as you encounter during submission. Submission can be a lengthy process.

Don’t be tempted to put a preprint on or researchgate at least until your article is published.  It is possible that a journal, even if it has provisionally accepted your paper, will then reject it owing to “prior publication”.

How journals review

Roles of assistant editors, editors, editorial board, external reviewers vary.

Differing policies and practices: Journals vary in how they elicit reviews and how they react to them.  Some editors are more helpful than others in advising writers what to do when reviewers’ opinions conflict in some way; others just send them all along.  Nevertheless, you can ask advice from the editor.

How to interpret the response to your article & remain resilient

Desk rejections – This could be because of an editorial policy (e.g. “Let’s not accept any more articles about X/ with N methodology for a while”) that you could be quite unaware of, so don’t be unduly upset.

Demands for revisions/tentative & uncertain acceptances.

How to correct

Remain undefensive, grateful and respectful.

Take great care over Letter/list describing corrections & the corrections.

Move onto another journal if necessary.

How to celebrate….  Oh that’s up to you!