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"Let's read a book, Mommy": How gender, age, and socioeconomic status affect naturalistic conversations about literacy

Alicia M Domack, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Research into emergent literacy has increased the awareness of the importance of early literacy experiences. Many studies have shown that individual differences in the emergent literacy components of phonological sensitivity, print knowledge, and oral language affect a child's future success in reading. These studies often focus on predicting future success from past abilities. From a sociocultural perspective, this study attempted to look at the child's environment and examine the context in which literacy development occurs. Transcribed conversations from the CHILDES database, a computer based storehouse of conversations transcribed by language researchers for use by other researchers, was used to determine if there were group level differences in the proportion of literacy words spoken by the mothers and their children. The conversations used in the analysis included children ages 3, 5, or 6, and their parents talking in a naturalistic setting (typically the home) without any prompting of conversation topic. Age of the child, gender of the child, and socioeconomic status were the group level variables of interest. Socioeconomic status was found to be significantly related to the proportion of literacy words spoken at home. This suggests that the mechanism behind the differences in emergent literacy seen in children from varying socioeconomic levels may be the amount of talk about literacy in the home, which could be viewed as the literacy culture of the family. ^

Subject Area

Education, Early Childhood|Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Reading

Recommended Citation

Domack, Alicia M, ""Let's read a book, Mommy": How gender, age, and socioeconomic status affect naturalistic conversations about literacy" (2009). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3350497.