Children's Literature in Education

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 256–273 | Cite as

New Literacies and Multimediacy: The Immersive Universe of The 39 Clues

  • Diane Carver SekeresEmail author
  • Christopher Watson
Original Paper


The 39 Clues (2009) is a multimedia series produced by Scholastic for readers 7–14 years old that includes printed texts released periodically; trading cards also published periodically in print and virtually; and a complex, intriguing, and entertaining website. To fully experience the multimedia series, the publishers expect that readers can read printed text, negotiate the website that blurs the boundaries between history and fiction, author, character, and reader, compete for prizes, and build online communities. The more able a reader is to use multiple media sources for her own purposes, the more likely she is to reach the end goal of solving the central mystery of the series and win cash prizes. We found that The 39 Clues is a unique instantiation of new literacies (e.g. Knobel and Lankshear, A New Literacies Sampler, 2007) in action.


Children’s literature New literacies Multimedia book series Online environment 


  1. Cook, Daniel Thomas. (2004). The Commodification of Childhood: The Children’s Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Dalton, Bridget, & Proctor, C. Patrick. (2008). The Changing Landscape of Text and Comprehension in the Age of New Literacies. In Julie Coiro, Michele Knobel, Colin Lankshear, & Donald J. Leu (Eds.), Handbook of Research on New Literacies (pp. 297–423). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Deahl, Rachel. (2009). The New Storytelling. Publishers Weekly, 256(13), 18–20.Google Scholar
  4. Digital Nation. (2010). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce.Google Scholar
  5. Dragon Age: Origins. (2009). Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: Bioware.Google Scholar
  6. Dresang, Eliza T. (1999). Radical Change: Books for Youth in a Digital Age. New York: H.W. Wilson Co.Google Scholar
  7. Durrant, Cal, & Green, Bill. (2001). Literacy and the New Technologies in School Education: Meeting the L(it)eracy Challenge? In Heather Fehring & Pam Green (Eds.), Critical Literacy: A Collection of Articles from the Australian Literacy Educators Association (pp. 297–324). Norwood, Australia: Australian Literacy Educators Association.Google Scholar
  8. Dyson, Anne Haas, & Genishi, Celia. (2005). On the Case: Approaches to Language and Literacy Research. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  9. Gee, James Paul. (2007). Good Video Games + Good Learning: Collected Essays on Video Games, Learning, and Literacy. New York: P. Lang.Google Scholar
  10. Hade, Daniel, & Edmonson, Jacqueline. (2003). Children’s Book Publishing in Neoliberal Times. Language Arts, 2(81), 135–143.Google Scholar
  11. Hagood, Margaret C. (2003). New Media and Online Literacies: No Age Left Behind. Reading Research Quarterly, 38(3), 387–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jenks, Chris. (2005). Childhood (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Knobel, Michele, & Lankshear, Colin. (2007). A New Literacies Sampler. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.Google Scholar
  14. Lankshear, Colin, & Knobel, Michele. (2003). New Literacies: Changing Knowledge and Classroom Learning. New York: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Lankshear, Colin, & Knobel, Michele. (2006). New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Classroom Learning (2nd ed.). New York: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Luke, Carmen. (2003). Pedagogy, Connectivity, Multimodality, and Interdisciplinarity. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 38(3), 397–402.Google Scholar
  17. Mackey, Margaret. (1995). Communities of Fictions: Story, Format, and Thomas the Tank Engine. Children’s Literature in Education, 26(1), 39–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Marchand, Roland. (1985). Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity, 1920–1940. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  19. Meyer, Stephanie. (2005). Twilight. New York: Little, Brown, & Co.Google Scholar
  20. Nanovor. (2009). Bellevue, WA: Smith & Tinker.Google Scholar
  21. Riordan, Rick. (2008). The Maze of Bones. New York: Scholastic.Google Scholar
  22. Rowling, J.K. (1997). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic.Google Scholar
  23. Scholastic. (2009a). Paris Catacombs. Accessed November 28, 2009, from
  24. Scholastic. (2009b). The 39 Clues Agent Dossier. Accessed October 19, 2009, from
  25. Scholastic. (2009c). The Secret Life of Benjamin Franklin. Accessed November 28, 2009, from
  26. Scholastic. (2009d). More Cahill Secrets. Accessed November 28, 2009, from
  27. Scholastic. (2009e). Scholastic Reveals Secret Destination with Release of “The 39 Clues Book 5: The Black Circle”. Accessed October 19, 2009, from
  28. Scieszka, John. (2010). Spaceheadz. New York: S&S Children’s.Google Scholar
  29. Sekeres, Diane Carver. (2009). The Market Child and Branded Fiction: A Synergism of Children’s Literature, Consumer Culture, and New Literacies. Reading Research Quarterly, 44(4), 399–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Steinkuehler, Constance. (2010). Digital Literacies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(1), 61–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Strauss, Anselm, & Corbin, Juliet. (1998). Basics of Qualitative Research Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory (2nd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  32. Tashjian, Joy, & Naidoo, Jamie Campbell. (2007). Licensing and Merchandising in Children’s Television and Media. In J.A. Bryant (Ed.), The Children’s Television Community (pp. 1–36). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  33. The Amanda Project. (2009). New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  34. The Fairy Godmother Academy. (2009). New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  35. The 39 Clues. (2008). New York: Scholastic.Google Scholar
  36. Watson, Jude. (2009). Beyond the Grave. New York: Scholastic.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Elementary Education and Literacy Programs, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of EducationUniversity of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

Personalised recommendations