Registering voices of success: Family literacy practices of African American students

Ma'at Olufemi Jakuta Jackson, Fordham University


This phenomenology study examined three academically successful high-achieving African American adolescents and explored how literacy activities and practices provided in the home contributed to their scholastic excellence. Interviews, fieldnotes, artifacts, and observations revealed how the adolescents and their parents/caregivers viewed the role(s) that they played in knowledge and literacy acquisition within the home. Youngsters viewed the learning process often taking place in a safe, nurturing environment(s) where it felt more like fun and games as opposed to learning. In contrast, parents/caregivers were shown to be dedicated and focused on those in their care being educated and well rounded, with a strong sense of self and cultural identity. Numerous resources and modalities were employed to assist the learners. Fairytales, adult-generated games, discussions, games, trips, books, folklore, and even resources provided through affiliations with community/local grassroots organizations were all utilized to this end. Contrary to other research findings, this study reveals a rich history of literacy within the African American home. Educators and parents could benefit from the results of this research, which may help dialogue among teachers as well as between parents. Highlighted herein are a wealth of techniques, resources, and ideas that could be employed, built upon, and studied, not only to more effectively introduce literacy to adolescents, but also to enhance their sense of self and identity, thereby providing a strong self-image that can lead to confidence and academic excellence.

Subject Area

African American Studies|Educational sociology|Literacy|Reading instruction

Recommended Citation

Jakuta Jackson, Ma'at Olufemi, "Registering voices of success: Family literacy practices of African American students" (2016). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10146979.