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Street Literacy: Increasing Children's Literacy Exposure 

The Project

Street Literacy_More about this projectResearch has proven that children growing up in low-income or disadvantaged neighbourhoods have less access to print than those growing up in middle-income neighbourhoods. This includes access to books, signs, logos and public spaces conducive to reading.

Many literacy programs have had success to improve literacy exposure by handing out books to children in disadvantaged areas and promoting shared book reading. These programs have the potential to improve literacy in the home but it has limited effect on enhancing literacy outside the home.

Outside Australia, initiatives to promote literary art have seen success through painting poems and texts on walls and sidewalks.

The objective of this project is to expose children from disadvantaged backgrounds to literacy through a similar way. Painted murals, nursery rhymes, songs and excerpts from children’s books will be used to do this using human geography.

Specifically it aims to achieve the following:
• Spark conversations between parents/adults and children about literacry and increase interest in reading and writing
• Improve language and literacy, as well as social skills
• Bring community together to promote children’s literacy
• Incorporate ‘literary art’ in public places in the local area

A pilot will be trialled in Warrawong, one of the most economically and educationally disadvantaged cities in Australia.

This project is unique in that it will look at literacy in a non-traditional way incorporating art, education, community and human geography.

The Researchers

Street Literacy_Meet the researchersThis project brings together researchers from the following Faculties: Social Sciences, Science, Medicine and Health, Law, Humanities and the Arts.

Elisabeth Duursma is an early career researcher and senior lecturer in early childhood literacy at the school of education at UOW. She is a member of the Early Start Research Institute (ESRI), as well as the Children’s Book Council of Australia, Illawarra-South Coast sub-branch. Her research focuses on language and literacy development among young, disadvantaged children. This project will provide her with the opportunity to lead a team of researchers from diverse areas and help her establish her career within the field of literacy research.

Dr Lotte Latukefu is a lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts at UOW. Her work focuses on collaborative learning in music and she is interested in working with students in disadvantaged communities. Lotte is also the director of HONK!, the street music festival in Wollongong. Lotte has a lot of expertise in bringing together a community around creative art and she is well known within the (arts) community.

Sussannah Clement is a PhD candidate at the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research (AUSCCER) with the Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities, Faculty of Social Sciences. Her research interest is in family geographies, with current research taking an ethnographic approach to explore the walking practices and experiences of families with children (3-12 years) living in Wollongong. Her qualitative research skills will assist with the design, implementation and evaluation of the project.

Dr Pippa Burns is a lecturer in the School of Medicine in UOW’s Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health. Pippa is also a member of the Children’s Book Council of Australia, Illawarra-South Coast subbranch, and has an interest in literacy and communication. She brings experience and expertise in the area of community engagement and interdisciplinary research teams and methods.

Kate Roggeveen is a research fellow in human geography in the Faculty of Social Sciences. She is interested in how people use space around them. Kate has expertise in mixed qualitative methods and working in an interdisciplinary team. Her experience in researching how people engage with their environment through everyday practices will strengthen the research. Kate is also a member of the Children’s Book Council of Australia, Illawarra-South Coast sub-branch and has an interest in childhood literacy.

Kiera Kent is a is a PhD candidate at the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research (AUSCCER) with the Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities, Faculty of Social Sciences. Her research focuses on children’s play in the city. Kiera will assist in examining how children use the space and the text in public spaces.

Last reviewed: 25 November, 2016

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