Critical Literacy.

18 Aug


Retrieved from:

According to Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday (2010) critical literacy when applied to a literary text is a type of ‘forensic science.’ It is reading with consideration to seek clues for the author’s purpose, and cues about how the author or illustrator uses language to place the readers to respond. For that reason, in my view critical literacy is being able to read deep into literature and form a point of view of how texts work.

In the 21st century, I believe critical literacy is a skill that is crucial for students to have before coming truly literate. As there are many approaches of critical literacy that teachers may take to ensure their students are provided with these life skills from their classroom (English, 2004) they must first introduce their students to view texts with a questioning position to form a point of view and then analyse the influence that enables them to look below the surface of the story to see how the reader (themselves) is being affected. As access to literature has increased significantly over the past decades, students need to have the skills to be able to ‘to examine viewpoints and, at times, to take a stand and to respond to issues that are important to them, issues that may well impact their future and their world… as all texts have the ability to influence readers in profound ways.’ (Mulhern & Gunding, 2011).

According to Luke & Freebody (1999, as cited in Vasquez, 2010) texts are on no occasion neutral. In that case, when an author creates a text, they will always have a particular perspective with the intent of transmission of particular messages; influenced immensely by previous and personal experiences, beliefs and biases. Authors have the power to make deliberate choices, especially about how they represent their characters and who will be exposed in a positive way and who will be depicted negatively (Rowna, 2001). Through the individuality of texts, students are able to ‘reflect on their own values, beliefs and attitudes’ (Mulhern & Gunding, 2011) that lie beneath the surface.

Critical literacy encourages readers to discover matters of fairness, equity and power to bring their own perspectives into the creation of new meaning. There is no set way to teach critical literacy in a classroom as it changes from place to place, and from culture to culture. As a child, growing up (especially at school) reading seemed like a ‘chore’, it simply felt as if it was forced onto me. Reflecting on history, I now appreciate the way my teachers taught critical literacy within the classroom consciously and unconsciously and hence setting me up for the relevant lifelong skills. I now hold an attraction for books that portray deep, powerful messages that can carry you into another world, time or place.


English, T. (2004). Critical Literacy. Adelaide, SA: (n.p.). Retrieved from;res=AEIPT;dn=137885

Mulhern, M., & Gunding, B. (2011). What’s critical about critical literacy? English Quarterly Canada, 42(1), 6-23. Retrieved from

Rowan, L. (2001). Write me in: Inclusive texts in the primary classroom. Newtown, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association.

Winch, G., Johnston, R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L., & Holliday, M. (2010). Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature (4th ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.

Vasquez, V. (2010). Getting beyond ‘I like the book’: creating space for critical literacy in K-6 classrooms (2nd ed.). (n.p.): International Reading Association.


One Response to “Critical Literacy.”

  1. Sharon August 19, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

    This post was formally assessed.

    Mikayla, a strength of this post is the literature you’ve accessed for inform your view and deepen your understanding of critical literacy.

    One thing that would have strengthened it even further was to include a concrete example, either from children’s literature or from the media. See Sheldon’s blog for an example of this – or Mieke’s blog.

    Your writing is clear and concise, but there are a few times where more careful proofreading would have eliminated minor errors. You forgot to italicise the title of the Winch et al. text, for instance.

    All in all, a solid post.

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