Is the Socioemotional Quality of Emergent Reading Interactions Related to Young Children’s Emergent Reading Skills?

Symonne S. Kennedy,
Stephanie M. Curenton*,
Rutgers University

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Abstract Emergent reading is an important developmental milestone wherein young children read familiar books to a parent or teacher. Few inquiries have been made about how the quality of emergent reading interactions are associated with children’s concurrent emergent reading performance or their standardized reading skills. The current study addresses this gap by investigating the association between the socioemotional quality of parent-child emergent reading interactions and children’s emergent reading skills on a standardized test of reading and an emergent reading rubric. Sixteen boys and 14 girls 36-60 months of age (M=48.90, SD=8.92) were recorded reading The Snowy Day by Ezra J. Keats to their mothers. An emergent reading rubric was developed based on children’s extra-textual comments during the emergent reading interaction and a standardized early reading assessment was administered to the children before the interaction. The mothers and children’s socioemotional contributions to the emergent reading interaction were used to assess the socioemotional quality of the interaction. Mother’s level of Balanced Control-Redirection as well as children’s Task Orientation-Compliance were both significantly and positively associated with children’s emergent reading rubric scores. Children’s Task Orientation-Compliance was significantly and positively associated with mothers’ level of Balanced Control-Redirection. These results suggest that mothers’ behavior during emergent reading interactions can influence children’s concurrent emergent reading performance; however, this influence does not extend to standardized scores on early reading assessments.

Introduction Reading is the gateway to academic success. It would be nearly impossible to do well in school or in life with poor reading skills. Lonigan and colleagues (2013) asserted that children who have good reading skills tend to read more than others and in doing so, these children develop still better reading skills while acquiring more vocabulary as well as general book-based knowledge. In support of these findings, Mol and Bus (2011) maintained that increased exposure to print enables children to develop proficient reading skills, which causes them to read more habitually, thereby improving their reading skills with each successive year of schooling. They found that preschool and kindergarten experience with print accounted for 12 percent of the variance in oral language skills; in primary school, print exposure accounted for 13 percent of the variance in oral language and by middle school, high school, and college, print exposure accounted for 19 percent, 30 percent, and 34 percent of the variance in oral language skills respectively (Mol & Bus, 2011). These findings indicated that continued exposure to print through reading is important for developing long-term reading ability and achievement. 

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