What Are the 13 Types of Literacy?

When we think of literacy, we usually think of the ability to read and write. However, the understanding of literacy that we possess is often curtailed by our educational experiences. Those of us in the field of education know that there are numerous types of literacy, all of which help us navigate life and fully engage in our democratic society. In this short piece, I will briefly define each of the 13 types of literacy, and I hope to cover each one in an upcoming article series.

Digital Literacy- By this definition, encompasses a wide range of skills, all of which are necessary to succeed in an increasingly digital world. As print mediums begin to die out, the ability to comprehend information found online becomes more and more important. Students who lack digital literacy skills may soon find themselves

Media Literacy- According to the National Association for Media Literacy Education, media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act using all forms of communication. Media literacy means anything from interpreting emojis to understanding underlying messages in online advertisements to producing viral video content and recognizing native advertising.

Recreational Literacy- Independent activities that cultivate positive attitudes, interests, and literacy habits.

Disciplinary Literacy- The treatment by experts in various disciplines of students’ reading, writing, and critical thinking abilities specific to the different disciplines.

Civic Literacy- Knowledge of how to actively participate and effect change in the local community and society.
Multicultural Literacy- The ability to understand and appreciate the parallels and differences between customs, values, and beliefs.

Information Literacy- A transformational process first described by Abilock where the learner needs to find, understand, evaluate, and use information in various forms for their own personal gain. This can include personal, social, or global purposes.

Functional Literacy- The literacy skills required to navigate society successfully.

Content Literacy- The use of literacy in specific areas such as math literacy or science literacy.

Early Literacy- What a child knows about communication, reading, and writing before they learn to read and write.

Developmental Literacy- A form of literacy instruction that takes a child’s stage of development in consideration. In essence, it provides developmentally appropriate literacy instruction.
Balanced Literacy- A reading program that uses several different reading methods to offer differentiated reading instruction.

Critical Literacy- Is a collection of dispositions and skills that cultivate innovative teaching, critical thinking, and active inquiry. Critical literacy assists students in thinking critically about the things that they read, instead of just brushing the surface.

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