Literacy studies is a growing field within applied linguistics, education and media studies. Despite the field's new prominence, current treatments are often weighted towards the propagation of a particular view or approach. This book provides a more balanced understanding, arguing that: *literacy must be examined through a balance of approaches if we are to appreciate its true nature *literacy cannot be described simply as situated, social activity *literacy is the sign systems and the uses of language that foster and reflect its social existence. *literacy is a property of mind. The book helps the reader to understand some of the currents of thought, whether post modernist, cognitivist, or Vygotskian, on which its larger analysis is based. Written in an engaging and lucid style, it contains a glossary and exercises to help and develop the reader's understanding.