The Relationship Between Middle-Class Parents' Book-Sharing Discussion and Their Preschoolers' Abstract Language Development.

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of Speech, Language, Hearing Research





Publication Date


First Page


Last Page



Thirty-five mothers and fathers were videotaped in their homesas they read a familiar and unfamiliar book to their preschoolersaged between 3;6 and 4;1. Parental discussions about the textwere coded for four levels of abstraction and correlated withchildren's gains one year later on a formal test of the samefour levels of language abstraction (the Preschool LanguageAssessment Instrument). Parental input at three of the fourlevels of abstraction was positively and significantly correlatedwith their children's gains at the highest level of abstraction.This was also the level at which children's scores were thelowest initially and showed the greatest gains. The resultssuggest that discussions during book reading with preschoolersmay be a positive influence, since it was parents' amount ofinput at lower as well as higher levels of abstraction thatcorrelated with the children's development of more abstractlanguage. We speculate that more input at lower levels mightenhance learning by creating a climate of success in allowingchildren to display mastered skills, whereas more input at higherlevels might enhance learning by challenging children with abstractlanguage skills they are just beginning to acquire. In contrastto previous research, these results suggest that there is agreat deal of variability in middle-class families in the amountof input that children receive at various level of abstractionsduring book sharing.


Published by American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in the Journal of Speech, Language, Hearing Research. Publisher PDF is available through link above. Publisher requires a subscription to access article.