Although the DALN is designed to serve the diverse goals and purposes of individuals and groups who submit and preserve their own literacy narratives for their own reasons, the value of such a collection for literacy teachers and researchers is also considerable. As Caleb Corkery (1994) notes, “Over the past two decades, researchers in linguistic anthropology, literary criticism, rhetoric and composition, teacher training, and gender studies have all found uses for studying narratives of literacy development” (p. 37).

A number of teachers of rhetoric and composition have discussed the value of having students compose and reflect on literacy narratives within formal composition classes. Mary Soliday (1994), for example, asserts that reading and writing such stories can help students not only reflect on their literacy practices and those of others, but also think critically about the issues surrounding literacy acquisition. In related work, Caleb Corkery (2004) has argued that literacy narratives can help “teachers develop a pedagogy centered on…confidence-building” (p. i), and Blake Scott (1997) has observed that literacy narratives allow students the time to reflect on “everyday language acts they might normally overlook or dismiss as trivial“ (p. 112), thus “throw[ing] into relief the knowledge and literacy they already have (p. 113) and that such stories provide students the chance to “critique their literacies in light of the discourse communities to which they belong” (p. 112). Howard Tinberg (1997) has noted that composing literacy narratives can help students with the human need to “theorize their lives” (p. 287).

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By writing self-reflectively about their literacy practices in narratives, students may: 1) identify and reflect on their roles and responsibilities as writers—a sense of ethos; 2) develop understanding of their literacy in flux and a sense of agency as writers; and 3) develop awareness of their “literacy in action”—the ways that their writing can effect change in their communities—a sense of civic literacy.

…Literacy narratives…provide writers with a lens through which they may examine their literacy experiences as critical acts of inquiry.  In literacy narratives, writers may be self-reflective and critical of their roles and responsibilities as writers, their writing strategies, and their interactions with generic forms, as they (re)position themselves in the discourses of different genres. Finally, as writers develop a sense of narrative agency by writing literacy narratives, they become participants in the development of their literacy in action. Potentially, as critical agents, writers may be encouraged to write their voices into communities beyond classrooms, and write their ideas into action.

(DeRosa, 2002, p. 2-3)