What is Literacy and Why is it important?

Kids Book-Review

Children’s Author Alison Lester reading to students at Larapinta Primary School

In order to understand the importance of literacy in the learning process of children it is essential to fully analyse the word itself.

The term literacy opens itself to a variety of interpretations, and, within a modern context has come to apply to technology (computer literacy) in addition to the traditional reading and writing. In the Education and Training Directorate of the Australian Capital Territory, literacy is defined as the ability to read and write and use written information and to write appropriately in a range of contexts’ (MCEETYA, 1997).

Whilst this definition emphasises the diversity of the issue it does not provide a comprehensive and encompassing definition, such as the one provided by Freebody (2012) in his use of the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority which states that literacy represents ‘the ability to understand and produce the English language accurately, fluently, creatively, critically, confidently, and effectively in a range of modes, and digital and print settings, in texts designed for a range of purposes and audiences’ (ACARA 2009, p.6).

It can therefore be established that a teacher or educator’s role within a child’s learning is to develop within them the confidence, desire and ability to read, understand and utilise language, not only in school, but throughout everyday life in accordance with the statement by Freebody (2012), ‘language and literacy resources are part of what these people have become, not just what they have‘.

Covenant College teacher Evie Stubbs engages year 1 students in phonetic exercises.


Det.act.gov.au. (2014). Literacy – education and training directorate. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.det.act.gov.au/teaching_and_learning/literacy_and_numeracy/literacy [Accessed: 16 Mar 2014].

Mccartney, T. (2012). Kids’ book review: interview: australian children’s laureates alison lester and boori monty pryor. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.kids-bookreview.com/2012/09/interview-australian-childrens.html [Accessed: 16 Mar 2014].

Moloney, J. (2013). Reading program puts school on write path. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/reading-program-puts-school-on-write-path-20130315-2g6f2.html [Accessed: 16 Mar 2014].

Simpson, A. & White, S. (2012). Literacy, language and literature. South Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press.


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