Sister to Sister: Becoming Literate in Relation

Amy Barnhill, Don Halquist


The interactions between siblings holds potential for creating and sustaining literacy learning (Goldfarb, 2000; Gregory, 2001; Volk, 1999). In this paper, we examine three literacy events that take place between a school-aged child and her younger sibling to reveal how the sisters’ interactions and relational practices support and extend the literacy abilities of both children. The findings reveal how the older sister, through her use of questions, her modeling of literacy strategies, and her support of her sibling’s growing literacy abilities, serves as a teacher to her sibling through her implicit and explicit modeling. The younger sister, through her use of questions and her engagement in the three events serves as a trigger to further her older sister’s understanding and use of authentic and emerging literacy skills and strategies. The findings also highlight how play provides a context that is mutually beneficial to and supportive of the sisters’ literacy development.


literacy; siblings; literacy events; literacy development

Full Text: