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© 2002, 2010 Susan Rich Sheridan

Marks and Mind is a comprehensive set of publications addressing literacy. These books and papers clarify the importance of symbolic reasoning to human thought in terms of social connection, range and control of emotion, strength and length of attention, expressivity, creativity, the development and use of language, including speech, and the tone of the general attitude toward self and the world.

Dr. Susan Rich Sheridan's theory and practice describe and facilitate the radical importance of scribbling and drawing as spontaneous mind/body activity in early childhood, and the powerful connections between drawing and writing for thinkers of all ages. For background information about the theory supporting this comprehensive marks-based, Scribbling/Drawing/Writing practice, see Dr. Sheridan’s papers, “The Scribble Hypothesis,” and “A Theory of Marks and Mind.” Click here for more information about the author.

The new books, Saving Literacy and HandMade Marks, are described on the Books page: Click on the BOOKS link in the menu at the top of the page for more information

The New Literacy

To an unprecedented degree, a technological society requires visual literacy skills as well as verbal. This combination of visual and verbal skills, or the ability to produce image as well as text, is "the new literacy." Children's natural drawing skills and their tendency toward a broad range of communicative marks is often marginalized or misunderstood. Technology's requirements for this new literacy forces us to take another look at spontaneous mark-making behavior - scribbling and drawing - in children, and to respect it and encourage mark-making as the place where this new literacy - in all its range and variety - begins. Dr. Sheridan's books meet this demand for multiple literacy skills by encouraging the natural capabilities of our brains, starting with the universal skill that everyone can do, drawing.

Hand logoThe abilities to write and to read depend upon core skills including the ability to pay attention, to extract information, to communicate ideas and emotions clearly, and to use both words and images. In short, to use the whole brain. These skills can be learned through training in drawing. Drawing is a universal skill. Everyone can draw. No one teaches us how. Drawing is a language instinct.

When talking and writing accompany drawing, verbal skills grow and a double literacy develops, both visual and verbal. This “new literacy " is as old as paleolithic cave drawings and as new as computer technology. The New Literacy rests on a new theory of multiple literacies. Humans as language-users have one unique characteristic: they make marks of meaning. These marks first take the form of scribbles. Then, children draw. The marks are equipotential: they can become anything: drawing, writing, mathematics, musical notation. The number of systems for meaning-making each of us learns depends upon opportunity, encouragement and instruction. It depends on our parents, our teachers, our environment, and our culture. Ultimately, it depends upon our brains and how we choose to use them.

Neurologically speaking, literacy is visual/verbal; it is both. The corpus callosum connecting the right and left hemispheres of the brain insures that thinking is a complex, cooperative unity- no matter what kind of thinking is going on. In this sense, the New Literacy models integrated brain function. The more mark-making systems we use, the more powerfully we think. Multiple literacy is our goal and our birthright.

Books about literacy for Teachers, Parents, Professional Caregivers
OopsBooks for Teachers, k-12 and at college and Elderhostel level

Learn how to use and teach the New Literacy using this teachers' workbook: Drawing/Writing and the new literacy: where verbal meets visual. This textbook/handbook for teachers and for schools of education provides theory and hands-on practice including a series of carefully organized lesson plans for teachers across grade and discipline who are interested in a broader approach to literacy. The 500-page book is illustrated with student work across grade and field grades K-12, as well as at the college level, and at the Elderhostel level.

Drawing/Writing and the new literacy, by Susan Rich Sheridan. Cost: $29.95, $4 shipping.
Available by mail through:

Marks and Mind
68 Maplewood Drive
Amherst, MA 01002
or email at susan.sheridan9@gmail.com

Click here for more information.

Books about early childhood literacy for Parents and Professional Caregivers
OopsFor young children 10 mos. to 6 years

The Thinking Child: A handbook for parents: How Literacy at home starts with scribbling and drawing - The Drawing/Writing Program: Find out about neurobeneficial parenting: parenting that's good for young, growing brains. Available as a free download from this web site. A hard copy of this booklet can also be ordered from SR Sheridan for $10, using address or email above.

New Books

Volume I: Saving Literacy provides exercises in scribbling and drawing, showing professional caregivers how to develop attention, emotional control and connection, speech, and literacy in children. Evaluation tools, and research questions included. Price: $35.95 (ISBN-10: 0741457539; ISBN-13: 978-0741457530)

Saving Literacy may be puchased from:

Click here for more information.

Volume II: HandMade Marks shows parents, including homeschoolers, how to develop attention, emotional connection/control, speech and literacy in children using scribbling and drawing. Exercises, developmental benchmarks, evaluation tools, and research questions included. Price: $35.95 (ISBN-10: 0741457695; ISBN-13: 978-0741457691)

Handmade Marks may be puchased:

Click here for more information.

Volume III: The Scribble Hypothesis: Marks Change Minds. Research Supporting a Neuroscience of Parenting/Caregiving in Early Childhood with a focus on shared interactions around scribbling, drawing, speech and writing. Available in 2010. Pricing and ordering information will be announced soon.
Volume IV: Preserving Literacy: how to use drawing and writing to protect our thinking skills as we grow older. Available in 2011. Pricing and ordering information will be announced soon.

Marks and Mind - How Marks Change Minds Book Series

Susan Sheridan

Photo by Allen

r. Susan Rich Sheridan is an artist, writer, parent and teacher. She received her undergraduate degree in Classics and English from Harvard College and her MAT and her doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Over the past twenty years, Dr. Sheridan has taught English and Art at the middle school, high school and college levels. Dr. Sheridan’s Neuroconstructivist theory of education, and her cross-modal practice Drawing/Writing are the result of twenty years of on-going teaching and field research.

Articles & Publications link

Additional Info

Vertebra Drawing

ON HIS OWN TERMS: OBSERVING A YOUNG READER: 2/14/2010 – I asked my almost 7-year old grandson, Nate, to read aloud to me. He did not want to. I thought, well, maybe he would like to write a story and read that to me. So, I folded and stapled some sheets of paper together to make a "book." Nate started copying, all on his own, from a little book he had chosen for us to read. As he copied the words from the book to a page in his book, he said the words out loud, phonetically, and also spelled them aloud as he wrote. He left spaces to copy the book's illustrations on each page. Nate's natural method combines copying, speaking, writing, reading, and drawing, all in one integrated motion. It gives the child a lovely lot of work to do, with no pressure. Nate invented this method of COPYING/SPEAKING/READING/WRITING/DRAWING. I recommend it. It takes all the pressure off the child to invent a story and write about it if he is not ready to do this. The pressure to read and write too young, especially in connection with boys, is back-firing. Nate showed his granny how to do this at child-speed-and-way.

Drawn by Nate, age 6, for his granny's web site.

Envelope Please e-mail your questions or comments for Dr. Sheridan at susan.sheridan9@gmail.com

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