Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Document Type



This study examined African American (AA) caregivers’ beliefs about their children’s language-literacy development and their book reading behaviors with their children as a function of socioeconomic status (SES). Caregivers’ behaviors were examined before, during, and after a three-day caregiver training program that targeted four behaviors (i.e., tracking print, reference to print, text to life, and interpretations). Participants were 20 caregiver-child dyads classified as Low-SES (LSES) or Middle-SES (MSES) based on the caregivers’ level of education. Children were typically developing girls between the ages of four and five years. At pre-test, the two groups of caregivers differed in some of their beliefs about children’s language-literacy development. They also were similar in the length of their book reading sessions, in their use of tracking print, text to life, and reference to print behaviors, but the MSES group produced more interpretations and other book reading comments than the LSES group. During training and at post-test, both groups increased the length of their book reading sessions and their use of all targeted behaviors. Nevertheless, the MSES group’s book reading sessions were longer and they produced more target behaviors than the LSES group. The MSES group also incorporated more facilitative language behaviors that were not targeted in the training into their book reading sessions than the LSES group. Correlations between the caregivers’ behaviors and beliefs at pre-testing were positive but low in magnitude. Correlations were higher at post-test, but did not reach a level of statistical significance. Findings demonstrate the appropriateness of book reading as a caregiver training target for AA caregivers because both groups were able to increase the length of their book reading sessions, and within these sessions, increase their ability to use a number of behaviors that are known to facilitate child language-literacy development. Nevertheless, the findings show that variability exists within AA caregivers as a function of SES. This variability is related to some of their beliefs about children’s language-literacy development and their ability to utilize training to enrich their book reading with their children. Clinicians should consider this variability when designing caregiver training programs for diverse groups of AA caregivers.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Oetting, Janna B.