Literacy is Inadequate: Young Children need Literacies

Research output: Contribution to JournalEditorial


According to a narrow definition of literacy - ability to read and write, exemplified by understanding ‘a short simple statement on everyday life’ (UNESCO, 2021) - the global adult literacy rate is currently 86% (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2020; The World Bank Group, 2021). This figure represents an 18% increase from 68% over the past 40 years, which may seem, prima facie, to represent powerful progress. However, as I argue in the editorial for this issue of the International Journal of Early Years Education, there is little room for complacency regarding global literacy. The figure reveals that millions of people remain marginalised by illiteracy in a World that has become increasingly techno-rational. It also serves as a reminder that measuring literacy at the level of purely technical print level fails to recognise the value of a broader understanding of literacy that encompasses the myriad ways humans communicate with one another and understand the world (National Literacy Trust, 2017).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Early Years Education
Issue number1
Early online date16 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • Literacy
  • Literacies
  • Early Literacy
  • Emergent Literacy
  • Early Childhood
  • Early childhood education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Education


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