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How Children Learn to Write

How Children Learn to Write
Supporting and Developing Children's Writing in School

First Edition

July 2002 | 208 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
`This book is a useful addition to any staff library. What makes it different to many other similar books is that it shows teachers that speaking, listening and reading create the foundations for writing. Tested in schools, staff said: "It is a very useful framework for action-research based upon secure theory. When deciding classroom strategies, it is easy to find what you are looking for and the chapter summaries are very helpful. Some of the staff development and training suggestions are very practical and we are trying them out. We found the emphasis upon class novels and the class discussion that follows, very important, especially when linked to the excellent examples of children's writing." This book may appear to some as theoretical and 'academic', but this is why it will be valuable. It does what the title says because it shows how children learn to write. It starts at the beginning and saves diving into the latest trend. Perhaps its best recommendation is that every school that was asked to look at it said, `It's good and we have ordered a copy' - John Lilly, independent education consultant

`The chapter on the Taxonomy of Writing Purposes will be useful for planning and those on extending and enhancing writing will definitely be helpful in many day-to-day situations' - Nicholas Bielby, Times Educational Supplement

This book outlines the processes which are involved when children learn to write.

The author shows how certain strategies can improve children's progress in writing. Dealing with the age range three to 13, the book addresses issues to do with:

- the gender gap

- children with English as an additional language

- left-handedness

Dorothy Latham includes ideas for sound and easy ongoing assessment of writing. The book is written in line with the requirements of the English National Curriculum and The National Literacy Strategy Framework for England, but is not limited to them.

Topics also covered include:

- brain development and structures

- the acquisition of speech

- language and thinking

- working memory

- secretarial skills

- stages in compositional development

- writing purposes and cross-curricular applications

- strategies for improving self-generated writing

- using reading to improve writing

- using speech and drama to improve writing and

- ten ways to improve children's writing.

This book is for serving teachers in schools wishing to study the subject in further depth, and as a source book for students. Useful for school-based staff INSET, it provides simple activities for teachers to do and discuss.

Writing and the Alphabet

Early Brain Development, Laterality and Gender Difference
Early Speech, Language Acquisition and Related Theories
Language and Thinking and Cultural and Social Influences on Language Use
Some Cognitive Functions in Literacy
How Working Memory Affects Reading and Writing

The Development of Secretarial Skills
Spelling, Handwriting and Presentation

Stages of Writing Development and Their Evaluation
A Taxonomy of Writing Purposes and Their Pertinence for Cross-Curricular Application
Basic Strategies for Extending and Enhancing Self-Generated Writing
Using Reading to Enhance Writing
Using Speaking and Listening and Drama to Stimulate Writing
Improving Writing - An Overview


A good publication which provides some practical examples to help children learn new skills or extend individual writing needs. The Chapter on brain development and gender differences was interesting to support TA’s on the Foundation Degree to adapt teaching resources to advance children’s individual needs.

Miss Tracey Canham
Health Care And Early Years, Swindon College
January 2, 2016

This book gives a good overview about the acquisition of writing skills in children. Especially the section about the underlying cognitive functions was very interesting and helpful for my class.

Ms Claudia Schmidt
Educational Psychology , University of Oldenburg
August 1, 2014

This book gives a very comprehensive overview of how children learn to write, starting from early brain development and culminating in an Epilogue which suggests ways that teachers can help their students to improve their writing. It is easy to dip into, if so desired, and has useful guides and exercises for the teacher to consider. It would be beyond the scope of the course that I will be delivering, but it will be useful to have in my college's library.

Mrs Judith Ballard
Care and Wellbeing, Brooklands College
June 10, 2014

A useful book to supplement core literature, which covers a wide range of developmental areas within literacy.

Mrs Sue Fraser
School of Education, Social Work &, Dundee University
March 24, 2014

Latham gives readers an excellent grounding in how children learn to write a first language and how this process is supported by education in the UK. Whether a reader has a background in education or linguistics, or neither, this book clearly explains the complex processes and developmental stages. It is also an excellent model of comprehensive and solid research as well as the academic writing skills that support its presentation, for students to emulate.

Mr James Beddington
ELS/ELTSU, Winchester University
January 3, 2014

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ISBN: 9780761947820

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