Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Sciences and Disorders

First Advisor

Janet Norris


This study investigated the effects of two styles of storybook reading within the storybook reading event (SBRE) upon African-American preschoolers of disadvantage (AAP-D). One style, performance-oriented, was thought to be closer to cultural frameworks familiar for this population. This style was contrasted with the interactive style familiar to children of middle-class. Each style was utilized with two groups of five children (ten children per condition) across three storybooks, which were each read six times. Pre- and posttesting were used to determine changes in language (semantic and discourse ability, as measured by retelling), literacy, and world knowledge. A control group of five children received only pretesting and posttesting and no storybook reading. Weekly probes further examined retelling changes and response to comprehension questions with each book, and amount of engagement within the storybook reading event. Analysis of variance was employed in this quantitative study. Subjects ranged in age from 3 years, 9 months to 4 years, 9 months. Pretest-posttest measures of literacy knowledge and world knowledge indicated reliably greater gains by the groups receiving storybook reading as compared to the control group. Differences approached significance for story retelling between experimental and control groups. Means for the interactive condition were slightly higher than for performance-oriented on all measures, but both conditions resulted in improvements in retelling, literacy, and world knowledge. These results suggest that even short-term experiences with book reading are beneficial to a range of language and literacy skills for AAP-D children. Weekly probes of retelling, comprehension, and focused engagement suggested that SBRE benefit in these areas may be affected by the structure and contents of chosen books as well as the style of engagement. Important implications of this study are that both styles of reading appear to offer benefits to AAP-D, and that style use may need to be individualized to the age, stage, and book experience of children.