The definition of literacy is evolving to include multiple ways of interacting with, transmitting on, and navigating across screens and other media, including films, video games, and smart phone applications. We don’t just read and write printed words on a page of paper; we now blog, podcast, text message, video-record, photo-edit, and otherwise manage complex combinations of print, sound, image, and animation as we send texts across vast social networks. These digital texts are not individually-authored manuscripts, rather they are multimedia co-productions shared with an interactive and collaborative audience. We tweet for 140 characters but in larger conversations that reply, build upon, and echo each other in order to create shared understandings.
Play creates the same kind of shared and interactive text as children work together to create and maintain a cohesive play narrative. Whether playing house or playing school, all the players contribute to the emerging script. The ideas here are openly under construction as children work together to make a played text. Our kindergartners will be 21st century citizens who very likely will need to be experts at collaborating and inventing together...with literacies we cannot yet imagine.
In Playing Their Way into Literacies, I argue that we need early literacy policies that encourage children to play into their future literacies rather than policies that play it safe by shrinking the curriculum to fit the tiny bubbles on standardized tests.