Multiple Possibilities: The Multi-literate Lives of Three Children

  • Jeffrey Wood Laurentian University


This paper presents findings from an eleven-year ethnographic study which describes how three children used different sign systems to become literate, to define who they are and to construct their literate identity. They each engaged with literacies in powerful and life transforming ways. Each child used multiple literacies to learn, understand and create meaning more fully; using their motivated interest in a preferred literacy to scaffold their learning of another literacy.

In analysing this rich literacies use I have come to understand that literacies are complex in their conception and use and that all sign systems (e.g. art, dance, reading, writing, videogaming, etc.) operate using common semiotic principles.  Sign systems as literacies are multimodal, meaning-focused and motivated; they involve specific social and cultural practices which differ depending on site and community. During every literate act the children in this study made extensive use of the semantic, sensory, syntactic and pragmatic cuing systems to make meaning, regardless of the literacies used. 

Author Biography

Jeffrey Wood, Laurentian University
Dr. Jeffrey Wood is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education.
Research Articles