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Adolescent literacy refers to the ability of adolescents, aged between age 12 and 20, to read and write. Adolescence is a period of rapid psychological and neurological development, during which children develop morally (truly understanding the consequences of their actions), cognitively (problem-solving, reasoning, remembering), and socially (responding to feelings, interacting, cooperating). All of these three types of development have influence—to varying degrees—on the development of literacy skills.
The International Reading Association (IRA) notes the unique psychology and neurology of adolescents, distinct from the literacy development of younger children or adults. They indicates seven guiding principles of literacy development for this age group, required for adolescents to become motivated, lifelong readers:
- access to a wide variety of reading material calibrated to their interests
- instruction that builds and develops their reading skills and interest in reading towards increasingly complex texts
- assessment that highlights both strengths and needs
- expert teachers who model and provide explicit instruction across the curriculum
- support from reading specialists (for those students experiencing difficulty learning)
- teachers who understand the complexities of individual adolescent readers
- homes, communities, and a nation that support the needs of adolescent learners
- Atwell, N. 1998. In the Middle. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
- Moore, D. et al., 1999. Adolescent Literacy: A Position Statement. International Reading Association 
- Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test. 2006. Education, Quality and Accountability Office of Ontario. 
- Tovani, C. 2000. I Read It But I Don't Get It. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.
- The Canadian Young Offenders Act
- Alvermann, D. E. (2008). Commentary: Why bother theorizing adolescents' online literacies for classroom practice and research? Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52, 8-19. Also available at: http://www.reading.org/Library/Retrieve.cfm?D=10.1598/JAAL.52.1.2&F=JAAL-52-1-Alvermann.html[permanent dead link]
- Ruth Shagoury, Ph.D., Starting With Comprehension: Reading Strategies For the Youngest Learners, Stenhouse Publishers, 2005.