Several studies have identified the central role of mass cultural and media texts in the shaping of young children’s out-of-school literacy practices (e.g. Browne 1999, Marsh & Thompson 2001). Although it is often supported that early childhood educators need to take account of the home literacy practices of their students, they tend to be negatively disposed towards mass culture, expressing concerns about its content and educational value (e.g. Dyson 1997, Seiter 1999), and thus the sociocultural experiences which are closest to the child are rarely included in the literacy events he/she participates in the nursery (e.g. Dyson 2001, Marsh 2000a, 2000b). As a result, a dissonance between out-of-school and schooled literacy practices of children is often detected, with important consequences especially for those coming from the lower socio-economic strata.
Focusing on the kindergarten of a socially uprivileged suburb of Thessaloniki (Diavata), we explore young children’s (aged 5-6 years old) access to and use of mass culture and media at home and in the nursery as well as teachers’ perspectives about the use of mass cultural and media resources in early childhood settings. Qualitative data were collected from a range of sources, including semi-structured interviews with children and teachers, questionnaires with parents and unstructured observations in the kindergarten classroom. Results indicate that children’s literacy practices at home were focused on television, whereas in the kindergarten a focus was given on the reading of books with scientific, mythological or religious content. Teachers were found ambivalent about the inclusion of mass culture at school, while parents tended to under-report their children’s use of mass cultural texts at home.