What is Literacy?

By its most basic definition, the term literacy means “the ability to read and write.” However, this is an oversimplification that misleads people into viewing reading and writing as distinct, isolated skills. In short, literacy is not the acquisition of two skills, it is a complex network of knowledge and experiences related to language comprehension and word recognition.

Additionally, literacy development begins from birth and encompasses a wide spectrum of skill levels— from emerging all the way to expert and academic literacy. As such, in the context of childhood development, a more accurate definition of literacy is “the ongoing process of acquiring or improving the skills needed to read and write a given language.”

Scarborough’s (2001) “rope model,” as seen here, is a helpful tool for illustrating the interconnected skills involved in achieving literacy. 

Take a look at this video for an in-depth explanation of the infographic:

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