Critical Literacy

Critical literacy is usually traced to Paolo Freire.

Critical Literacy views readers as active participants in the reading process and invites them to move beyond passively accepting the text’s message to question, examine, or dispute the power relations that exist between readers and authors. It focuses on issues of power and promotes reflection, transformation, and action.

Paolo Friere (1970)


Some key principles of critical literacy:
  • Challenges common assumptions and values
  • Exploring multiple perspectives, and imagining those that are absent or silenced
  • Examining relationships, particularly those involving differences in power
  • Reflecting on and using literacy practices to take action for social justice

Choose a suitable advert to discuss

Look carefully at the chosen advert and think about these questions:

  1. What does this advert say to you?
  2. What message do you think the advert is giving to the viewer/consumer (either literal or implied)?
  3. Who is the advert aimed at?

Look again at the advert at this point.

Critical Literacy question: What are the assumptions and implications behind the imagery/wording?