Children in Crisis: Transforming Fear into Hope Through Multimodal Literacy

  • Donalyn HeiseEmail author
Part of the Educating the Young Child book series (EDYC, volume 12)


Current interest in preparing students for success in the twenty-first century has resulted in redefining what it means to be literate. Educators recognize the importance of utilizing multiple modes of literacy to help students navigate the varied texts children now encounter. But what about young children who lack access or who live in crisis, such as those experiencing homelessness? How can early childhood educators prepare all children for success in the digital age when some children lack basic needs of safety, food, and shelter? In this chapter, I advance the notion of art within a multimodal literacy framework and a meaning-making endeavor that contributes to the needed discussion on how to provide access to knowledge and necessary skills to students who have minimal access to resources. I draw upon my years as an art teacher/researcher with young children who are homeless in a variety of settings, including P12 schools, community programs, and intergenerational arts/literacy programs in shelters for homeless families. Throughout the chapter, examples are provided and common principles are explained. I share insights from students, parents, teachers, and researchers and contend that multimodal literacies in the context of homelessness can be useful in engaging students in the construction of personal and shared meanings that contribute to resilience and transformation of perspectives. Considerations to guide instruction for children in crisis include: (1) context, (2) certainty, (3) choice and control, (4) creativity, and (5) contribution. I conclude with implications for schools and shelter programs in the United States and abroad.


Multimodal literacies Homelessness Art education Resilience Children in crisis Visual literacy Early childhood 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Advance Learning, IncAustinUSA

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