Reading and Writing

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 361–398 | Cite as

Maternal mediation in book reading, home literacy environment, and children’s emergent literacy: a comparison between two social groups



The researchers addressed two questions: (1) Does maternal reading mediation and family home literacy environment (HLE) relate to children’s emergent literacy (EL) level? and (2) Do the relationships among these variables differ as a function of socioeconomic strata (SES) level. A total of 94 5–6-year-old children, 47 from low SES (LSES) and 47 from high (HSES) families, and their mothers participated. Mother–child interactions while reading an unfamiliar book were videotaped and their verbal expressions were coded for extracting maternal mediation level. Children’s independent EL level was assessed prior to the interaction. Compared with the LSES group, HSES children showed higher EL levels and their homes had a richer literacy environment. Maternal mediation level differed by SES: LSES mothers paraphrased text more often; HSES mothers’ higher mediation level included a discussion of the written system and making connections beyond the text. In the HSES group, maternal mediation level and HLE related to children’s EL; no such relationships appeared in the LSES group. Results are discussed in terms of children’s socio-economic background and their reading experiences. Implications for researchers and educational practices about the relationships between children’s literacy development, SES, HLE, and parental mediation are discussed.


Emergent literacy Home literacy environment Joint book reading Maternal mediation SES 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aram D., Korat O., Levin I. (2006). Maternal mediation in a young child’s writing activity: A sociocultural perspective. In: Joshi R.M., Aaron P.G. (Eds.), Handbook of orthography and literacy. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. (pp. 709–733 Google Scholar
  2. Aram D., Levin I. (2001). Mother-child joint writing in low SES: Sociocultural factors, maternal mediation and EL Cognitive Development 16: 831–852CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aram D., Levin I. (2002). Mother-child writing and storybook reading: Relations with literacy among low SES kindergartener Merrill-Palmer Quarterly 48: 202–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barr R.D.R. (1983). How schools work Chicago: University of Chicago PressGoogle Scholar
  5. Bornstein M.H., Hahn. C., Suwalsky J.T.D., Haynes M. (2003). Socioeconomic statues, parenting and child development: The Hollingshead four-factor index of social statues and the socioeconomic index of occupations. In: Borenstein M.H., Bradley R. (Eds.), Socioeconomic statues, parenting and child development. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. (pp. 29–82)Google Scholar
  6. Bowey J. (1995). Socioeconomic status differences in preschool phonological sensitivity and first-grade reading achievement Journal of Educational Psychology 87: 476–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burgess R.B., Hecht S.A. Lonigan C.J. (2002). Relations of the home literacy environment (HLE) to the development of reading-related abilities: A one-year longitudinal study Reading Research Quarterly 37: 408–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bus A.G., Leseman P.P.M., Keultjes P. (2000). Joint book reading across cultures: A comparison of Surinamese-Dutch, Turkish-Dutch and Dutch parent-child dyads Journal of Literacy Research 32: 53–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bus A.G., van Ijzendoorn M.H., Pellegrini A.D. (1995). Joint book reading makes for success in learning to read: A meta-analysis on intergenerational transmission of literacy Review of Educational Research 65: 1–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clay M. (1979). Stones. London, England: Heinemann Educational BooksGoogle Scholar
  11. Clay M. (1989). Concepts about print in English and other languages The Reading Teacher 42: 268–276Google Scholar
  12. Cohen Y. (1999). Socioeconomic gaps between Sefardic and Ashkenazic Israelis: 1975–1995 Israeli Sociology 1: 115–134Google Scholar
  13. DeBaryshe B.D. (1993). Joint picture book reading correlates of early oral language skills Journal of Child Language 20: 455–461Google Scholar
  14. De Temple J.M., Snow C. (1996). Styles of parent-child book reading as related to mother’s view of literacy and children’s literacy outcomes. In: Shimron J. (Ed.), Literacy and education: Essays in memory of dina feitelson. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press (pp. 49–68)Google Scholar
  15. De Temple J.M., Snow C. (2003). Learning words from books. In: van Kleeck A., Stahl S.A., Bauer E.B. (Eds.), On reading books to children: Parents and teachers. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers. (pp. 16–37)Google Scholar
  16. Dickinson D.K., Tabors O. (1991). Beginning literacy with language Baltimore, MD: BrookesGoogle Scholar
  17. Douglas, W. (2000). Student engagement at school: A sense of belonging and participation. Paris: OECD, www.pisa.oecd.orgGoogle Scholar
  18. Evans M.A., Shaw D., Bell M. (2000). Home literacy activities and their influence on early literacy skills Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology 54: 65–75Google Scholar
  19. Ezell H.K., Justice L.M. (2000). Increasing the print focus of adult-child joint book reading through observational learning American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 9: 36–47Google Scholar
  20. Feitelson D., Goldstein Z. (1986). Patterns of book ownership and reading to young children in Israeli school-oriented and nonschool-oriented families The Reading Teacher 39: 924–930Google Scholar
  21. Ferreiro E., Teberosky A. (1982). Literacy before schooling Exeter, NH: HeinemannGoogle Scholar
  22. Garvin, A., Walter, E. (1991). The relationships among children’s storybook reading behavior and knowledge about print concepts in kindergarten and their reading ability in first grade (Report No. 143). Indiana University East Richmond, IN. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 380795)Google Scholar
  23. Goodist J.G., Raitan J.G., Perlmutter M. (1988). Interaction between mothers and preschool children when reading a novel and familiar books International Journal of Behavioral Development 11: 489–505Google Scholar
  24. Haden C.A., Reese E., Fivush R. (1996). Mothers extratextual comments during storybook reading: Stylistic differences over time and across texts Discourse Processes 21: 135–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hargreve A.N., Sénéchal M. (2000). A book reading intervention with preschool children who have limited vocabularies: The benefits of regular reading and dialog reading Early Childhood Research Quarterly 15: 75–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Heath S.B. (1983). Ways with words: Language, life and work in communities and classrooms Cambridge, England: Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  27. Hecht S.A., Burgess S.R., Torgesen J.K., Wanger R.K., Rashotte C.A. (2000). Explaining social class differences in growth of reading skills from beginning kindergarten through fourth-grade: The role of phonological awareness, rate of access and print knowledge. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 12: 99–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Korat O. (2005). Contextual and non-contextual knowledge in EL development: A comparison between children from low SES and Middle SES communities Early Childhood Research Quarterly 20: 220–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Korat O., Bahar E., Snapir M. (2003). Functional-social and cognitive aspects in EL: Relations to SES and to reading-writing acquisition in first grade Megamot 42: 195–218 (Published in Hebrew)Google Scholar
  30. Korat O., Levin I. (2001). Maternal beliefs, mother-child interaction, comparison of independent and collaborative text writing between two social groups Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 22: 397–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Leseman P.P.M., de Jong P.F. (1998). Home literacy: Opportunity, instruction, cooperation and social-emotional quality predicting early reading achievement Reading Research Quarterly 33: 294–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Levin I., Korat O. (1993). Sensitivity to phonological, morphological and semantic cues in early reading and writing in Hebrew Merrill-Palmer Quarterly 39: 213–232Google Scholar
  33. Levin I., Share D., Shatil E. (1996). A qualitative-quantitative study of preschool writing: Its development and contribution to school literacy. In: Levy C.M., Ransdale S. (Eds.), The science of writing: Theories, method, individual differences and application. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum (pp. 271–293)Google Scholar
  34. Levin I., Tolchinsky-Landsmann L. (1989). Becoming literate: Referential and phonetic strategies in early reading and writing International Journal of Behavioral Development 12: 369–384Google Scholar
  35. Lonigan C.J., Burgess S.R., Anthony J.L., Baker T.A. (1998). Development of phonological sensitivity in 2- to 5-year-old children Journal of Educational Psychology 90: 294–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lonigan C.J., Whitehurst G.J. (1998). Relative efficacy of parental and teacher involvement in a shared reading intervention for preschool children from low income background Early Childhood Research Quarterly 13: 263–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Meyer L., Stahl S.A., Wardrop J., Linn R. (1994). Effects of reading storybooks to children Journal of Educational Research 88: 69–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Neuman S.B. (1996). Children engaging in storybook reading: The influence of access to print resources, opportunity, and parental interaction Early Childhood Research Quarterly 11: 495–513CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Nicholson T. (1997). Closing the gap on reading failure: Social background, phonemic awareness, and learning to read. In: Blachman B.A. (Ed.), Foundations of reading acquisition and dyslexia: Implication for early intervention. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum (pp. 381–407)Google Scholar
  40. Nicholson T. (1999). Literacy, family and society. In: Thompson G.B., Nicholson T. (Eds.), Learning to read: Beyond phonics and whole language. New York: Teachers College Press (pp. 1–22)Google Scholar
  41. Ninio A. (1980). Picture-book reading in mother-infant dyads: Belonging to two subgroups in Israel Child Development 51: 587–590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Nord, C.W., Lennon, J., Liu, B., Chandler, K. (2000). Home literacy activities and signs of children’s emerging literacy: 1993 and 1999 (Report NCES-2000-026). Washington, DC: National Center for Educational Statistics (ERIC Document Reproduction Service ED 438 528)Google Scholar
  43. PISA (2002). Literacy, reading, mathematics and science: PISA research 2002. Ministry of Education: Jerusalem (Hebrew)Google Scholar
  44. Pellegrini A.D., Perlmutter J.C., Galda L., Brody G.H. (1990). Joint reading between Black Head Start children and their mothers Child Development 61: 443–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pellegrini A.D., Galda L., Shokley B., Stahl S. (1994). The nexus of social literacy experiences at home and school: Implications for first grade oral language and literacy. Reading Research Report No. 21. College Park, MD: National Reading CenterGoogle Scholar
  46. Reese E. (1995). Predicting children’s literacy from mother-child conversations Cognitive Development 10: 381–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Samooha S., Kraus V. (1986). Ethnicity as a factor in status attainment in Israel Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 4: 151–175Google Scholar
  48. Scarborough H.S. (2001). Connecting early language and literacy to later reading (dis)abilities: Evidence, theory, and practice. In: Neuman S.B., Dickinson D. (Eds.), Handbook of early literacy research. New York: The Guilford Press. (pp. 97–110)Google Scholar
  49. Scarborough H.S., Dobrich W. (1994). On the efficacy of reading to preschoolers Developmental Review 14: 245–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sénéchal M., LeFerve J., Thomas E.M., Daley K.E. (1998). Differential effects of home literacy experiences on the development of oral and written system Reading Research Quarterly 33: 96–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Shatil E. (2001). Haver Hadensh ]A new friend [. Adaptation version of Concept About Print Test to Hebrew. Kiryat Bialeek, Israel: Aah PublishingGoogle Scholar
  52. Shatil E., Share D.C., Levin I. (2001). On the contribution of kindergarten writing to grade one literacy: A longitudinal study in Hebrew Applied Psycholinguistics 21: 1–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sigel I.E. (1982). The relation between parental “distancing” strategies and the child’s cognitive behavior. In: Laosa L.M., Sigel I.E. (Eds.), Families as learning environments for children. New York: Plenum (pp. 47–86)Google Scholar
  54. Smith S.S., Dixon R.G. (1995). Literacy concepts of low- and middle-class four-year-olds entering preschool Journal of Educational Research 88: 243–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Snow C., Ninio A. (1986). The contracts of literacy: What children learn from learning to read books. In: Teale W.H., Sulzby E. (Eds.), EL: Writing and reading. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation (pp. 117–138)Google Scholar
  56. Sonnenschein S., Brody G., Munsterman K. (1996). The influence of family beliefs and practices on children’s early reading development. In: Baker L., Afflerbach P. (Eds.), Developing engaged readers in school and home communities. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers. (pp. 3–20)Google Scholar
  57. Sonnenschein S., Munsterman K. (2002). The influence of home-based reading interactions on 5-year-olds’ reading motivation and early literacy development. Early Childhood Research Quarterly 17: 318–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Stahl S.A. (2003). What do we expect storybook reading to do? How storybook reading impacts word recognition? In: van Kleeck A., Stahl S.A., Bauer E.B. (Eds.), On reading books to children: Parents and teachers. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, (pp. 363–383)Google Scholar
  59. Stanovich K.E., West R.F. (1989). Exposure to print and orthographic processing Reading Research Quarterly 24: 402–433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sulzby E. (1991). Assessment of EL: Storybook reading The Reading Teacher 44: 498–500Google Scholar
  61. Teale W.H, Sulzby E. (1999). Literacy acquisition in early childhood: The roles of access and mediation in storybook reading. In: Wagner D.A. (Ed.), The future of literacy in a changing world. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press (pp. 131–150)Google Scholar
  62. van Kleeck A. (2003). Research on book-sharing: Another critical look. In: van Kleeck A., Stahl S.A., Bauer E.B. (Eds.), On reading books to children: Parents and teachers. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers (pp. 16–36)Google Scholar
  63. van Kleeck A., Gillam R., Hamilton L.S., McGrath C. (1997). The relations between middle-class parents’ book-sharing discussion and their preschoolers’ abstract language development Journal of Speech-Language-Hearing Research, 40: 1261–1271Google Scholar
  64. Velthuijs M. (2000). Zefardea beyom meuhad meod [Frog in a very special day] Tel Aviv, Israel: Zmora BitanGoogle Scholar
  65. Vygotsky L.S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes Cambridge, MA: Harvard University PressGoogle Scholar
  66. Wagner R.K., Torgesen J.K., Rashotte C.A., Hecht S.A., Barker T.A., Burgess S.R., Donahue J., Garon T. (1997). Changing relations between phonological processing abilities and word-level reading as children develop from beginning to skilled readers: A 5-year longitudinal study Developmental Psychology 33: 486–479CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wells G. (1985). Preschool literacy related activities and success in school. In: Olson D., Torrance G., Hildyard A. (Eds.), Literacy language and learning: The nature and consequences of reading and writing. New York: Cambridge University Press (pp. 229–255)Google Scholar
  68. Wheeler M.P. (1983). Context-related age changes in mother’s speech: Joint book reading Journal of Child Language 10: 259–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Whitehurst G.J., Arnold D.S., Epstein J.N., Angell A.L., Smith M., Fischel E. (1994). A picture book intervention in day care and home for children from low-income families Developmental Psychology 30: 679–689CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Whitehurst G.J., Lonigan C.J. (2001). EL: Development from prereaders to readers. In: Neuman S.B., Dickinson D. (Eds.), Handbook of early literacy research. New York: The Guilford Press (pp. 11–30)Google Scholar
  71. Yaden D.B., Smolkin L.B., MacGillivray L. (1993). A psychogenetic perspective on children’s understanding about letter associations during alphabet book reading Journal of Reading Behavior 25: 43–68Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationBar-Ilan UniversityRamat-GanIsrael

Personalised recommendations