SAGE Handbook of Writing Development

Author(s) Roger Beard, Deborah Myhill, Jeni Riley
Editor(s) Roger Beard, Deborah Myhill, Jeni Riley
Publisher Sage Publications Ltd
Published 2009
Pages 616
Price £90.00
ISBN 9781412948463
Reviewed by Dr Susan Wilkinson
University of Portsmouth
Review published 2 October 2009

The SAGE Handbook of Writing Development is a fascinating and varied collection of papers that together review work in the area of writing development, summarise key debates, and consider where current research is taking place.  It extensively examines a range of perspectives that contribute to both theoretical and empirical advances in writing development.

Section 1 deals with key components of the writing process, for example, composing, translation and revision, as well as more recent semiotic based research in multimodality.  It covers topics such as grammar in writing, multi-literacy issues, and how writing relates to language and power.  Sections 2 and 3 address early written communication, and the chapters in these sections acknowledge the multidimensional nature of converting spoken language into a written form, and discuss to what extent this is challenging for young children.  Section 4 aims to address the issues surrounding the emergence of more bilingual societies in the 21st century, and how writing development is being shaped by these new sociocultural transformations.  This section also deals with computer technologies, with chapters on topics such as hypertext and writing online, and writing in the new digital environments.  This final section also deals with the challenges raised by delays and difficulties in writing development, and ends with a chapter dealing with the ecological validity of educational practices. 

Due to the vast array of topics covered in this book, I would suggest it to be used as a reference tool, as the title of ‘handbook’ indeed suggests.  It is an interesting and well thought out collection of papers and ideas about writing development, and would be of interest to anyone who has any involvement with language and how written communication has developed, and how it is influenced by and has an influence on, other factors.  It would also be of use to anyone who wants to increase their understanding in the area of written communication. 

The bringing together of researchers and practitioners from different disciplines adds to the richness of this book.  It presents an up to date overview of research and current thinking in the area of writing development, and offers insight into this complicated area of study from international experts in the field.

Reviewed by Dr Sue Wilkinson, University of Portsmouth