Literacy - the ability to produce and interpret written text - has long been viewed as the basis of all school achievement; a measure of success that defines both an 'educated' person, and an educable one. In this volume, a team of leading experts raise questions central to the acquisition of literacy. Why do children with similar classroom experiences show different levels of educational achievement? And why do these differences in literacy, and ultimately employability, persist? By looking critically at the western view of a 'literate' person, the authors present a new perspective on literary acquisition, viewing it as a socially constructed skill, whereby children must acquire discourse strategies that are socially 'approved'. This extensively-revised second edition contains an updated introduction and bibliography, and each chapter has been re-written to account for the most recent research. Groundbreaking and revealing, this volume will continue to have far-reaching implications for educational theory and practice.