For much too long the study of plurilingual pupils has been focussed on their deficits. In the present study special resources of underprivileged adolescents who are successful in their literal socialization were investigated. From a sample of 1500 15-year-olds 76 were asked to fulfil a writing task measuring their functional-pragmatic writing abilities. The results show only minor differences between mono- and plurilingual adolescents. The same trend can be detected for reading abilities as well, especially when empathic reading competence is included and socio-economic status is controlled for. The authors argue in favour of a concept for reading and writing which, in addition to traditional hard criteria like orthography and grammar for writing or information processing for reading, incorporates soft dimensions like emotional involvement (for reading) or communicative strategies (for writing). Reading and writing socialization viewed in such terms can only succeed if schools find ways to embed reading and writing in their students’ lives in a way which is perceived by them as meaningful.