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explored the distinctive lifeworlds of literacy and told us Leona's poetic 'puppy story'. Leona's story is characterised by the markers of a tradition of African –American storytelling but is deemed inadequately coherent as a 'story' in the context of school. The connections between Leona's story and the examples of parenting in chapter three are not overtly articulated thus leaving the challenge to schools to recognise, and value, alternative literacies practices unsaid. One would be forgiven for coming away from this conversation with a confirmed view of the inherent rightness of 'educated' parents' attitudes and behaviours and the need to replicate these for disadvantaged children.

The entanglement of literacy with power relations, which Gee's previous writing has helped me understand so well, is much less openly addressed in this short book. For readers new to the topic I fear it is too implicit. The lack of a clear definition of literacy at the outset might also be confusing. Particularly in the world of adult education where there are debates about the use of the singular or plural and the scope of what is included in a definition, it would have been helpful if Gee had either offered his own definition or addressed the disputes directly. Gee also refers on a number of occasions to literacy 'sponsors', referencing Deborah Brandt, but without an elucidation of her specific use of this term in relation to literacy.

With these concerns, I wondered then whether I would recommend this book to adult education practitioners or students new to a socio-cultural view of literacy. In my experience as a teacher educator, the different conceptualisations are not easy to grasp and the conversational style of this book leaves some ideas sketched in rather than explicated carefully. Its power, however, is in the stories. Gee makes the point that 'words in a text gain their meanings from the experiences people have had' (p. 130) and in this book he continually invokes the reader's experiences through authentic examples with which they can identify.


believe that through the recognition of the stories, readers will be provoked to see alternative views of the world of literacy. Within my own teaching and research I have frequently used Gee's example of the 'aspirin bottle problem' (Gee, 2008, p.45 – 49) to demonstrate how teaching the 'reading' of the health warning text must go beyond decoding to engage with questions about drug companies, social relations and the structure of society. This book is a rich resource of many more examples to draw upon with students and practitioners.

Gee, JP (2008) Social Linguistics and Literacies: Ideology in discourses, 3rd edition, Routledge, Abingdon


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