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

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Journal of Speech, Language, Hearing Research





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Thirty-five mothers and fathers were videotaped in their homes as they read a familiar and unfamiliar book to their preschoolers aged between 3;6 and 4;1. Parental discussions about the text were coded for four levels of abstraction and correlated with children's gains one year later on a formal test of the same four levels of language abstraction (the Preschool Language Assessment Instrument). Parental input at three of the four levels of abstraction was positively and significantly correlated with their children's gains at the highest level of abstraction. This was also the level at which children's scores were the lowest initially and showed the greatest gains. The results suggest that discussions during book reading with preschoolers may be a positive influence, since it was parents' amount of input at lower as well as higher levels of abstraction that correlated with the children's development of more abstract language. We speculate that more input at lower levels might enhance learning by creating a climate of success in allowing children to display mastered skills, whereas more input at higher levels might enhance learning by challenging children with abstract language skills they are just beginning to acquire. In contrast to previous research, these results suggest that there is a great deal of variability in middle-class families in the amount of input that children receive at various level of abstractions during 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.