Early Years Pedagogy Further Reading

We hope you find these suggestions for further reading helpful.  We have provided links where appropriate, but in many cases a subscription will be required to access a particular research article.  Where an article is available without charge on another website, we have included a link to that for your information.  In the case of subscription articles, we do not recommend any particular provider and suggest that you use the information provided below to help you identify the most appropriate research source for you.

Flewitt, R., Messer, D. and Kucirkova, N. (2015) New directions for early literacy in a digital age: The iPad. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 15(3) 289–310.

The authors discuss how iPads offer innovative opportunities for early literacy learning but also present challenges for teachers and children in a Children’s Centre nursery (3- to 4-year-olds), a primary school reception class (4- to 5-year-olds) and a Special School (7- to 13-year-olds). They discuss their potential uses with staff, observing how they were integrated into practice over a two-month period, highlighting variability in the ways iPads were used across the settings. A common finding was that well planned; iPad-based literacy activities stimulated children’s motivation and concentration. They also offered rich opportunities for communication, collaborative interaction, independent learning, and for children to achieve high levels of accomplishment. In some cases, this led teachers favourably to re-evaluate the children’s literacy competence, and enabled children to construct positive images of themselves in the literacy classroom.

Livingstone, S., Marsh, J., Plowman, L., Ottovordemgentschenfelde, S. and Fletcher-Watson, B. (2015) Young Children (0-8) and Digital Technology.  London: London School of Economics and Political Science.

This recent study recruited ten families from London, Sheffield and Edinburgh with at least one child aged 6 to 7, to examine children’s use of digital technology, including engagement with tablets, computers, gaming consoles and other devices. The authors present a number of key findings, making some recommendations for parents, childminders, educational settings and schools. The study concludes that the children in this study led active and varied lives in which technology played an important, but not overwhelming part. Use of technology was balanced with many other activities, including outdoor play and play with non-digital toys. Technology was embedded into everyday family life and included intergenerational interactions around technology. Extended family members and networks outside of the home play an important part in socialisation with regard to children’s technology use.

Edwards, S.  (2013) Digital play in the early years: a contextual response to the problem of integrating technologies and play-based pedagogies in the early childhood curriculum, European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 21:2, 199-212.

The early childhood literature still talks about the inadequate integration of digital technologies into early childhood curricula. For various reasons the problem is often attributed to teachers, for example, teachers might be described as not being fully aware of the digital lives children have outside of preschool. This article proposes the concept of the Digital Consumerist Context (DCC) as a way of bridging the gap between play as a basis for pedagogy in early childhood education and the use of technologies and digital media in the early years. It is suggested that a contextual orientation towards the problem of digital play in the early years might better support teachers to effectively engage children in the range of critical thinking skills that are associated with the ‘new learning’ and ‘new literacies’ movements in both primary and secondary education. If it has been possible to talk of new literacies and new learning for older children, surely it should now be possible to bridge the gap between play and technologies in early childhood curricula and talk of ‘new’ play.

Wolfe, S. and Flewitt, R. (2010). New technologies, new multimodal literacy practices and young children’s metacognitive development. Cambridge Journal of Education, 40(4), 387–399.

This study investigates 3- and 4-year-old children’s encounters with literacy as they engage with a range of printed and digital technologies at home and in a nursery. The study goes beyond analysis of spoken language, giving a more complete understanding of literacy learning processes through detailed analysis of how children use multiple communicative modes as they experience literacy in different media. Drawing on notions of literacy as social practice, this paper discusses how the advent of new technologies has introduced new dimensions into young children’s literacy learning, the implications of which have not yet been fully recognised in early years policy guidance, training or practice. The authors emphasise that multimodal analysis of children’s literacy activities involving new technologies is only just beginning to reveal how children’s learning might be ‘scaffolded’ in the ‘information age’, concluding that understanding the role of digital technologies in the processes of young children’s literacy development is crucial to ensure that all children have equal access to opportunities to learn in schools today.

Kerckaert, S. Vanderlinde, R. and van Braak, J. (2015) The role of ICT in early childhood education: Scale development and research on ICT use and influencing factors, European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 23:2, 183-199.

This study not only aims to get a clearer picture of ICT use in early childhood education, but also explores the factors that are important in understanding ICT use in preschools. The study was conducted in Flanders (Belgium), drawing on the responses to questionnaires, of over two hundred early years teachers. The researchers found that whilst teachers have positive attitudes towards the possibilities, other barriers inhibit the use of ICT. Other limitations include the available resources, knowledge and skills of teachers, and barriers at the school level, such as policy and leadership. Whilst preschool teachers don’t view ICT as a threat to playful learning and children’s development, some may need to be challenged to think about the role that ICT can have in their classroom practice.

Palaiologou, I. (2014): Children under five and digital technologies: implications for early years pedagogy, European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 313-325.

Investigating the types of digital technologies children under five are using at home and assessing the possible implications for early years pedagogy, the research was carried out in four European countries: England, Greece, Malta and Luxemburg. Analysis of the qualitative data emerging from the interviews suggested that children are ‘digitally fluent from a very young age’. One of the key findings was that parents felt that their definition of an illiterate person no longer corresponded to the traditional view of someone who cannot read and write, but rather was considered as a person who cannot learn, unlearn, relearn and use digital technologies as part of their everyday lives. The project concluded that there should be a re-conceptualisation of young children’s learning that cannot be overlooked by early years education.

Kucirkova, N.  (2014) iPads in early education: separating assumptions and evidence. Frontiers in Psychology. 1-3.

This article focuses on the emerging iPad research in early education using data from children aged between 2 and 8 years old. A number of promising avenues including the use of apps are explored. A unique insight found that children’s use of exploratory talk was similar with apps that support joint problem-solving, open-ended content and that have incrementally difficult tasks to solve. The findings allowed the researcher to inform educators and policy-makers of the innovative features of iPads.

Edwards, S. (2014) Towards contemporary play: Sociocultural theory and the digital-consumerist context. Journal of Early Childhood Research, October 2014; 12 3: 219-233.

This article considers the concept of contemporary in relation to existing ideas of children’s play, learning and development from a sociocultural perspective. This study was conducted in response to arguments suggesting that the quality of children’s play has declined in line with their increased access to digital technologies, digital media and consumer-based products. The character of Peppa Pig was selected for examining the concept of contemporary play. Rather than positioning technologies, media and products as causes of deficiencies, it is suggested instead that the digital contexts promotes direct cultural participation for young children (0–8 years of age).

Price S., Jewitt C. & Lanna L.C., (2015) The role of iPads in pre-school children’s mark making development, Computers & Education. Pre-publication copy.

For both artist David Hockney and young children in early childhood settings, iPads offer new opportunities for using graphical marks as symbolic representation. This paper reports a comparative study of tablet computers versus traditional physical paint and paper. Children aged 2-3 years engaged in a free finger painting activity and colouring in activity in both paper and digital environments. The findings are discussed in terms of shaping young children’s mark making, the implications of the use of touch screen technologies in literacy development for educational practitioners and technology design.

Lockett, A. (2016) The Development of Reflective Dialogue and Participation in Young Children Through Engagement with Documented Learning Narratives.  Submitted to: Centre for Research in Early Childhood.

Anjali Lockett, Redcliffe Nursery School and Children’s Centre, has recently published this piece of research investigating how young children’s active, reflective dialogues and metacognitive thinking can be stimulated through engaging with documented learning narratives (learning stories and learning diaries), leading to increased participation in the process of documentation and assessment by the child and transformation of the practitioner researcher’s practice.  The research works within a praxeological paradigm, seeking to uphold values of democracy, ethics and the rights to participation.  The research engages with current discourse on Article 12 of the United Nations rights of the Child, the right for the child to participate in all aspects of decision making and applies this to the researchers own practise in relation to assessing children’s learning and the implications for wider practise amongst the early childhood workforce.

Brooker, L., Blaise, M. and Edwards, S. (Eds.) (2014) SAGE Handbook of Play and Learning in Early Childhood. London: Sage Publications.

Play and learning scholarship has developed considerably over the last decade, as has the recognition of its importance to children’s learning and development. Containing chapters from highly respected researchers, whose work has been critical to building knowledge and expertise in the field, this Handbook focuses on examining historical, current and future research issues in play and learning scholarship. This book is organised into three sections that consider:

  • Theoretical and philosophical perspectives on play and learning
  • Play in pedagogy, curriculum and assessment
  • Play contexts.

This recent handbook is essential reading for researchers and postgraduate students, as well as professionals with interest in this dynamic and changing field.

Brooker, L. and S. Edwards.  (Eds.) (2010) Engaging Play. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

This insightful and engaging collection brings together the perspectives of leading and emerging scholars in early childhood education and play from within Europe, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States of America. Each of these scholars considers, from their own theoretical standpoint, the ways that young children’s play contributes to their learning and development. The chapters cover a variety of contexts and theoretical positions, demonstrating that the process of ‘engaging’ with the theory and practice of play can take many forms. A range of theoretical viewpoints of play are considered and related to the experiences of today’s families, children and educators across different educational settings. The numerous contributors are likely to include many whose names you recognise and some new ones!

Moss, J. and Washbrook L. Understanding the Gender Gap in Literacy and Language Development,  Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol.

Brock, A. and Rankin, C. (Eds.) Professionalism in the Interdisciplinary Early Years Team: Supporting Young Children and Their Families. London: Continuum Publishing Corporation.  Also available from Amazon and other booksellers.

This publication celebrates the professionalism of the varied practitioners who work with young children. It covers the key issues faced by early years practitioners, and moves on to consider particular roles within the early years team, including the early years professional, early years teacher, health professional, social worker, speech and language therapist and librarian. This text will be invaluable to those studying early years at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and a useful resource for leaders in early years settings and established early years practitioners who are undertaking continuing professional development courses.

Goswami, U. (2015) Children’s Cognitive Development and Learning: Full Research Report. Cambridge: Cambridge Primary Review, CPRT Research Survey 3.

The latest update of this important study will have resonance for all those working and engaged in research in the early years phases. It is written by Usha Goswami, an eminent neuroscientist and Director of the Centre for Neuroscience in Education at Cambridge University. It is one of a series of research reports commissioned by the Cambridge primary Review trust.

Goswami, U. (2015) Children’s Cognitive Development and Learning: Full Research Report. Cambridge: Cambridge Primary Review, CPRT Research Survey 3.

The latest update of this important study will have resonance for all those working and engaged in research in the early years phases. It is written by Usha Goswami, an eminent neuroscientist and Director of the Centre for Neuroscience in Education at Cambridge University. It is one of a series of research reports commissioned by the Cambridge primary Review trust.

Castle, K. (2011) Early Childhood Teacher Research: From Questions to Results. London: Routledge.

What is early childhood teacher research and why is it important? How does a teacher researcher formulate a research question and a plan for doing research? How do teachers apply research results to effect change? Early Childhood Teacher Research is an exciting new resource that will address the sorts of questions and concerns that pre- and in-service teachers of young children frequently have when engaging in teacher research.


We are building a bank of resources to support your early years research project.  Links to suggested further reading in each of the key research hubs can be found below.  Or contact us and let us know how we can make this website more relevant to you and your practice.

We'd love to hear from you!  Please get in touch with any ideas or suggestions for the website.

We will only use the information submitted in this form to make contact with you regarding your enquiry. Your details will be stored securely and will never be passed to third parties. Please tick the box to confirm you are happy with this.

4 + 4 =