The strategies children use for vocabulary development

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One context that supports the strategies children use for vocabulary development is joint book reading (JBR) (Ewers & Brownson, 1999; Hargrave & Sénéchal, 2000). JBR involves the interaction between adults and children reading stories together with the adult using specific strategies to engage the child and scaffold language interactions for facilitating typically developing children's vocabulary development (Ard & Beverly, 2004; Crowe, 2000; Justice & Ezell, 2000; Sénéchal, 1990; Whitehurst & Lonigan, 1998). Children who struggle with language learning and present with inadequate vocabulary skills can benefit from JBR and increase literacy skills (Bridge, 1979; Norris, 1988). Children who struggle with language learning and present with inadequate vocabulary skills can benefit from JBR and increase literacy skills (Bridge, 1979; Norris, 1988). Repeated readings of the same story provide multiple exposures to new words and facilitate the development of vocabulary (Justice et. al., 2003; Carey, 1978) and children begin to correlate familiar to unfamiliar context (Snow & Goldfield, 1983).

Reading books to very young children can foster an understanding of phonemic awareness and promote successful development of language skills, and literacy (Bus, Ijzendoorn van, & Pellegrini, 1995). Literature suggests early JBR positively impacts language skills (Elley, 1989; Senechal & Cornell, 1993), provides linguistic advantages (Moerk, 1985) and promotes cognitive and intellectual development (Bus, Ijzendoorn van, & Pellegrini, 1995) for infants and toddlers. JBR creates a language‑enriched environment to encourage vocabulary development (Elley, 1989; Jenkins & Dixon, 1983) and is fundamental for emergent literacy and building skills for reading success (Bus, Ijzendoorn van, & Pellegrini, 1995; Richman, & Colombo, 2007).

During JBR, adults have the opportunity provide children their undivided attention (Sénéchal et al., 1996) while reading. Not only do adults read, but interact and allow young children to react while enhancing the context of a reading activity beyond independent reading alone (Elley, 1989; Sénéchal, LeFevre, Thomas, & Daley, 1998; Snow, 1983; Snow et al., 1998). Children are able to achieve a relationship between oral and written language participating in these shared storybook experiences. Adults direct this experience by identifying and commenting on pictures and vocabulary illustrated, ask questions and often relate the story to children's own personal experiences (Kaderavek & Sulzby, 1998). Reading to children is a form of social interaction which creates an environment that facilitates oral language, vocabulary acquisition, intellectual development and linguistic skills essential for literacy (Vygotsky, 1978; Whitehurst & Lonigan, 1998).

Young language learners can benefit from sharing these experiences. Findings by Karras and Braungart-Rieker (2005) stress the important role parents play during JBR activities to contribute to the success of language and literacy learning. Parents provide a rich environment for consistent learning opportunities by engaging in joint attention (Tomasello & Farrar, 1986), using intricate language and details to encourage learning and provide ample opportunity for vocabulary acquisition. Language skills are reinforced (Murphy, 2007) as adults disguise instruction by guiding learning; identifying pictures by pointing to pictures to match words with objects (Bruner, 1985), commenting, asking questions (Ninio, 1983), interacting, expanding (Murphy, 2007) and responding to children's cues and sharing a general interest. Often children are given the opportunity to learn new words not typically seen in their environment through illustrations and parent guided learning (Tomasello & Farrar, 1986).

Most children's storybooks use novelty, humor, conflict, and surprise to entice children and encourage participation. Characteristics like these help to increase arousal levels, desire to maintain attention which ideally results in comprehension and learning from story context (Berlyne, 1960) and facilitates discussions and interactions between adults and children.

While a number of efficacy studies have examined strategies supporting vocabulary development in children, the majority of these studies have focused on children in grades three through eight (National Reading Panel [NRP], 2000). There has been little research investigating the use of elaborated commenting within a JBR context for kindergarten students, therefore further clinical research is needed for vocabulary enhancement techniques.

Adults can help facilitate early literacy development in many ways. The following is a list of research-supported practical experiences to expedite early literacy development in children from

What Reading Strategies Are Most Beneficial to Facilitating Early Literacy Skills?

Adult-child book reading provides an optimal context for facilitating linguistic growth and an ideal opportunity to familiarize young children with complex language and vocabulary. Verbal interactions during book reading promote the development of many different language skills necessary for literacy. Shared book reading heightens the child's awareness of discreet elements of written language and story grammar components (Kaderavek & Justice, 2002). The competencies developed during early book reading lay the foundation for knowledge about print conventions, alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness, and narrative abilities, all of which relate to later academic achievement (Catts, Fey, Tomblin & Zhang, 2002).


Literacy scaffolds facilitate children's development by assisting them to perform at a slightly higher complex level, first with support and later independently. They are helpful in expanding the young child's vocabulary, sentence structure, speech, and early literacy skills (Paulson et al., 2001). A few selected scaffolding techniques include (Kaderavek & Sulzby, 1998; Paulson et al., 2001):

Researchers have shown that children who experience print in a meaningful way in everyday activities make substantial gains in their ability to understand literacy concepts (Clay, 1991; Holdaway, 1979; Justice & Ezell, 2000).

Print referencing, refers to the use of verbal and nonverbal cues to encourage children's attention and interactions with print (Justice & Ezell, 2004). These references to print are easily embedded during storybook reading between an adult and a young child.