Understanding Integration in Emergent Reading
A predictable alphabet book was proposed as a natural way to observe emergent readers’ attempts to integrate their developing literacy skills and knowledge base, despite not yet having achieved conventional levels of reading. Study 1 examined how accuracy in identifying words in an alphabet book in kindergarten related with emergent skills measured in kindergarten and with subsequent reading ability. One hundred and three children completed tests of phonemic awareness, letter knowledge, vocabulary, and rapid naming in kindergarten and were audiotaped reading an alphabet book with their parent. Reading ability was assessed one year later. Correlations were consistent with previous research identifying phonemic awareness, letter knowledge, vocabulary and rapid naming as significant correlates of emergent reading. Alphabet book accuracy correlated with subsequent reading, and the relative indirect effects of kindergarten phonemic awareness and letter sound knowledge on Grade 1 reading through kindergarten alphabet book reading were significant. Findings supported the conceptualization of how well a child identifies words in an alphabet book as a representation of early skill integration. Study 2 built upon these findings by examining self-reported reading strategies. Siegler’s (1996) overlapping waves model was used as a framework, which emphasizes variability, adaptive choice, and gradual change in children’s problem solving. Ninety-one kindergarteners completed tests of phonemic awareness, letter knowledge, and vocabulary, and read an experimentally designed alphabet book having pages of varying difficulty with a researcher twice over several months. Findings supported the three main features of the overlapping waves model. Children reported a variety of strategies across the book and on individual pages within it. They worked most quickly on the easiest pages, reported more strategies on the most difficult pages, and chose adaptively among their strategy repertoire. The number of strategies reported and the number of accurately labeled pages increased over time. The relative indirect effects of phonemic awareness and letter sound knowledge on alphabet book accuracy through the use of graphophonemic strategies were significant. Findings support the application of the overlapping waves model to the domain of reading. Overall, these studies highlight the potential for using typical literacy activities to deepen our understanding of the process of learning to read.