8 Books for a Rich and Diverse Perspective on Digital Literacies

Orality and Literacy by Walter Ong  – This is a classic text, describing how various societies transitioned form an oral tradition to a written tradition.  Written largely before the Internet, it provides a wonderful foundation for thinking about literacy in the digital age.


Literacy: An Introduction to the Ecology of Written Language by David Barton – This is not the easiest read, but Barton does a fine job introducing he reader to the idea of literacy as something more than just a discrete set of skills.  Rather, he helps us to think about literacy from a social perspective.


What Video Games Have to Teach us About Learning and Literacy by James Paul Gee – Gee’s work has become a classic in the field of new litearcies, demonstrating the way in literacieis emerge or are cultivated within digital contexts, especially within games.


Handbook of Research on New Literacies – This is a massive collection of chapters that address a wide variety of topics and perspectives.


New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning by Colin Lankshear & Michele Knobel – If you are looking at this list and wondering where to start, this would not be a bad one.  It has a nice blend of practical ideas and solid theory to help establish a conceptual understanding of new literacies.


Net Smart: How to Thrive Online by Howard Rheingold – Howard does an excellent job helping readers to navigate life and learning in a digital context.


Program or Be Programmed by Douglas Rushkoff and Leland Purvis – This is a topic that is often overlooked.  It is a very short, but substantive read that helps us to think about how we can get involved in shaping our lives in the digital world (even shaping the digital world itself) and not passively letting the digital trends shape us.


Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning With New Media by Mizuko Ito, Heather Horst, Judd Antin, and Megan Finn – This is one of the best books out there that provides insight into how young people are cultivating new and valuable literacies outside of the traditional classroom, as they take part in a variety of informal and online social learning environments.