National Writing Project

TR 36. “Once-Upon-a-Time” Reconsidered: The Developmental Dialectic Between Function and Form

By: Anne Haas Dyson
Publication: National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report
Date: July 1989

Summary: This essay traces the evolution of "once-upon-a-time" in a case study of a child's classroom story writing, demonstrating how the story forms young children learn from others are catalysts for development.

 

Excerpt

In the case of written language development, children's ways of writing change as children begin to sense new functional possibilities in their activity, functional possibilities that were previously fulfilled through other means, including drawing, playing, and talking. Children's sense of what can be accomplished through writing evolves as others respond, both playfully and critically, to their efforts. New ways of writing engender new responses--which in turn engenders the discovery of new functional possibilities for writing.

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