Effects of preschoolers' storybook exposure and literacy environments on lower level and higher level language skills

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  • Lorenz Grolig
  • Caroline Cohrdes
  • Simon P. Tiffin-Richards
  • Sascha Schroeder

The development of preschoolers’ language skills is influenced by literacy environments and individual differences in storybook exposure. Extant research is limited as most studies (a) investigate the effects on lower level language (LLL; e.g., vocabulary, grammar), but not the effects on higher level language (HLL; e.g., comprehension monitoring, narrative comprehension), and (b) focus on shared reading in the home literacy environment (HLE), but not on the child care literacy environment (CCLE) and the child as active literacy agent. We addressed these two gaps. First, we investigated the contributions of the HLE and the CCLE to the storybook exposure of 201 German preschoolers (M Age = 5; 5 years). A multilevel model showed that parents’ storybook exposure was the most important predictor of children’s storybook exposure. By contrast, child care workers’ storybook exposure was not a significant predictor. Second, we explored the unique contributions of HLE, CCLE, and preschoolers’ storybook exposure to LLL and HLL skills. Multilevel models showed that children’s storybook exposure explained unique variance not only in LLL skills, but also in HLL skills. Literacy environments explained additional variance in LLL skills. In sum, our results suggest that literacy environments are differentially related to children’s storybook exposure and language skills. Our finding that children’s storybook exposure was a unique predictor of vocabulary, grammar, comprehension monitoring, and narrative comprehension indicates that shared book reading has the potential to foster a range of early literacy skills which predict reading comprehension.

Original languageEnglish
JournalReading and Writing
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1061-1084
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 15.04.2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Shared reading, Home literacy environment, Child care literacy environment, Print exposure, Lower level language, Higher level language
  • Educational science