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Victoria Purcell-Gates, Ph.D.
Canada Research Chair in Early Childhood Literacy
Faculty of Education
Department of Language & Literacy
2125 Main Mall
304 B Scarfe Hall
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, B.C.
Canada V6T 1Z4

Principal Investigator: Cultural Practices of Literacy

Ph.D. University of California/Berkeley, 1986

Research Interests
The ways in which people in communities value and practice literacy in all aspects of their lives. This includes texts, written symbol systems, purposes for reading and writing, attitudes and beliefs. Designing early literacy instruction that builds on young children’s linguistic, cognitive, cultural, and social models for reading and writing that they acquired within their home communities.

Second term of the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair-Early Literacy approved in 2010.

Selected Publications


Gagne, M., Collier, D., Anderson, J., & Purcell-Gates, V. (2010). Intergenerational literacy program: A handbook for literacy practitioners. Vancouver, BC: Canadian Council on Learning.

Purcell-Gates, V. (2008). Authentic literacy instruction: K-3. Available at www.authenticliteracyinstruction.com.

Purcell-Gates, V. (Ed.). (2007). Cultural Practices of Literacy: Complicating the Complex. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Book Chapters:

Purcell-Gates, V., Perry, K., Mazak, C., & Briseño-Garzón, A. (2011). Para contextualizar agencia: Apropiación y resistencia de prácticas de lecto-escritura de niños y jóvenes (To contextualize agency: Appropriation and resistance of literacy practices). In Milstein, D., Clemente, A., Guerrero, A., & Higgins, M.J. (Eds). Encuentros etnográficos con niñ@s y adoloscentes: Entre tiempos y espacios compartidos (pp. 29-50). Buenos Aires: Miño y Dávila.

Purcell-Gates, V. (2009). The irrelvancy and danger of the 'simple view' of reading to meaningful standards. In J.S. Soler, (Ed.) Understanding difficulties in literacy development: Issues and concepts London, UK: The Open University & Sage Publications.

Purcell-Gates, V. (2009). Impact of authentic adult literacy education on adult literacy practices. In J. Soler (Ed.). Approaching difficulties in literacy development: Assessment, pedagogy and programmes London, UK: The Open University & Sage Publications.

Purcell-Gates, V. (2007). Family literacy; Community literacy. In B. Guzzetti (Ed.), Literacy for the new millennium: Adult literacy (pp. 123-138. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Purcell-Gates, V. (2006). What does culture have to do with it? In B. Maloch, J. V. Hoffman, C.M. Fairbanks & J. Worthy (Eds.), 55th Yearbook of the National Reading Conference. Oak Creek, WI: National Reading Conference.

Peer-Reviewed Journals:

Purcell-Gates, V., Anderson, J., Gagne, M., Jang, K., Lenters, K., & McTavish, M. (in press). Measuring Situated Literacy Activity: Challenges and Promises. Journal of Literacy Research.

Anderson, J, V. Purcell-Gates, K. Lenters, & Marianne McTavish. (in press). Real world literacy activity in preschool. Community Literacy Journal.

Purcell-Gates, V., Perry, K., & Briseno, A. (2011). Analyzing literacy practice: Grounded theory to model. Research in the Teaching of English, 45, 439-458.

Purcell-Gates, V., Gigliana Melzi, Behnosh Najafi, & Orellana, M.F. (2010). Building literacy instruction from children’s sociocultural worlds. Child development Perspectives, 4, 207-212.

Purcell-Gates, V. (2010). Leading with the heart: A cross-cultural analysis of the Latino Cultural model of educación. Journal of School Communications.

Purcell-Gates, V., & Duke, N.K. (2007). Learning to read and write genre-specific texts: The roles of authentic experience and explicit teaching. Reading Research Quarterly, 42, 8-45

Purcell-Gates, V. (2006). Written Language and Literacy Development: The Proof is in the Practice. Research in the Teaching of English, 41, 164-169

Duke, N.K., Purcell-Gates, V., Hall, L.A., & Tower, C. (2006). Authentic literacy activities for developing comprehension and writing. Reading Teacher, 60, 344-357


Bridging home and school literacy with Dr. Victoria Purcell-Gates. Dr. Victoria Purcell-Gates et al. discuss bridging home and school literacy. For more information about Dr. Purcell-Gates’ work see Journal of Literacy Research 44 number 4. Available at http://www.voiceofliteracy.org/posts/48952


Elected to the Reading Hall of Fame, 2005.

Oscar Causey Award for Outstanding Research in Reading (2005). Awarded by the National Reading Conference.

Appointed Tier 1 Canada Research Chair for Early Childhood Literacy at University of British Columbia, B.C. 2004.

Academy of Sciences/Institute of Medicine Committee on Health Literacy. 2002-2003.

Noted Scholar Appointment by University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Summer 2002.

University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education. For originality, creativity, feasibility and scope of potential applicability of ideas that help make the world a better place. Award given for Other People’s Words: The Cycle of Low Literacy (Harvard University Press, 1995). $150,000. 1996.

Most Promising Researcher. Awarded by the National Council of Teachers of English. 1987.

Finalist in the Outstanding Dissertation of the Year Award competition. Awarded by the International Reading Association. 1987.

Promising Researcher Award for dissertation research. Awarded by the National Council of Teachers of English. 1987.

Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation for 1985-1987 in Phi Delta Kappa District II. Awarded by Phi Delta Kappa on Evaluation, Development and Research. 1987.