Imagine entering a world in which everyone around you spoke a different language. You arrive and your only connection to written and spoken language is the letters that are sent between you and your family whom live in your previous world. Does this make you illiterate in your new home? Wordless picture book author, Shaun Tan tells the story of a traveler who was in this exact situation in his book The Arrival.
Is the written and spoken language that Tan's main character is literate of the only literacy that he has though? Could the meaning that he is making of the world around him be a form of literacy?
This is a question that we can use in a classroom to build up our value of the different forms of literacy that children could possess. Different classrooms are likely to have children with a variety of first languages, and the literacies that can be universal through the classroom, like picture understanding, can be utilized to create a connectedness in understanding by every student. Being able to appreciate literacy that focuses on meaning making is a broader way to view what literacy is and what different forms of it have the capacity to do by creating mutual understanding.