Graduate Program

School Psychology

Degree Name

Specialist in School Psychology

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Christine McCormick


Recent research has shown that the degree of children's exposure to and knowledge about reading when they first enter school is highly predictive of future reading achievement. Researchers investigating home influences on literacy have concluded that certain home experiences prior to first-grade affect performance and general abilities in early elementary school. One component of the literacy-rich home environment is that of a parent reading to children. This has been considered by many as a critical component of a home environment which fosters reading skills. Being read to as a preschooler has been shown to be associated with reading achievement well beyond the early years of school.

The general finding that the more a child knows about print and reading before systematically learning to read, the higher his/her reading achievement in school will be, is well documented in the literature. However, descriptive studies have tended to focus on preschool children of professionals or preschool children of low-income families. Descriptive studies regarding more typical young preschoolers are virtually non-existent.

The current study describes early literacy skills (such as print concepts and letter recognition) of preschool children, parental support in the home environment for activities associated with literacy (such as the child's exposure to print and the amount of time spent reading to the child), and the relationships among home experiences and the child's early literacy skills. This study was designed to investigate the variability in early literacy skills of 3 to 4 year-old children and to describe to what degree home experiences supportive of literacy involvement, especially being read to, are correlated with that variability.

Results did not indicate support for the prediction that the more children are read to and the greater their exposure to literature and literacy activities, the better their literacy skills will be prior to school.

Despite the present findings, reading to children is believed to be a highly beneficial parent-child activity, though this is just one of several home activities that parents can use to expose their children to opportunities for learning about literacy and language. As many researchers point out, there are many potentially desirable outcomes to parent-preschooler reading; the activity might strengthen the emotional ties, acquaint the child with factual information about the world, or provide an appreciation of pictorial representations, as well as encourage early literacy skill development.