Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Susi Long


This ethnographic study examined the uses of print and digital materials in the lives of three preschoolers over a five-month period of time in the children’s home and community contexts in the southeast region of the United States. The research question asked: What can I learn about the literacy practices of three preschoolers as they use print and digital materials in their worlds? The children were the primary focus of the research, but adults (specifically, the children’s mothers) also served as informants. Grounded in sociocultural theory and informed by constructivist and media theories, the study is important because, while we know that young children access digital tools within their learning environments, there is little empirical research to highlight the ways that very young children simultaneously develop both print and digital literacies. To begin to fill that gap, this study examined the ways that three young children learned about and through both print and digital materials. Findings indicate that the children accepted these materials as part of their worlds as they emulated adults, shared the roles of expert and apprentice, transmediated across digital and print experiences, and demonstrated agency within their own literacy development. Additional findings illuminated the ways that adults viewed and provided access to materials, as well as how materials often reflected evidence of racial bias and gender stereotype. Findings suggest implications for adults who support young learners by providing access to and engagements with materials that will allow them to become active, agentive users of literacies in the 21st century.

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