Literacy is the cultural practice of encoding and decoding meaning on the world through the development of agency to construct meaning from texts (Street, 1995). When we take a historic and socially situative view of literacy (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989) we see how reading practices differ from communities and schools (Heath, 1983; Gonzalez, 1992).
You can not separate the learning of reading to write from the culture teaching the literacy practices.It involves more than discrete skills but an act of meaning making while words get used as sources of power and disempowerment.
This of course involves reading and the decoding of words. Literate has been defined as memorizing religious texts or writing your name. Today we see literacy as also problem solving and constructing meaning from print and multimodal texts( New London Group, 1996). Learning to read, is not natural. It takes explicit instruction but can not get separated by the culture which teaches the skills.The tool shapes the tool maker who then reshapes the tool.
In many ways learning to read and write requires apprenticeship. We need to teach learners to join a community of readers and writers. A community of practice (Lave& Wenger, 1991) in other words. Students need to see the power of words and how it influences “ways of being in the world” (Gee, 2008).