Beginning Literacy with Language: Young Children Learning at Home and School

Volume Editors: David K. Dickinson Ed.D., The Late Patton O. Tabors Ed.D.

Format: Paperback, 432 pages, 6.0 x 9.0
ISBN: 9781557664792
Price: $36.95

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In this fascinating book, you'll travel into the homes and schools of over 70 young children from diverse backgrounds and observe parent-child and teacher-child interactions. Through research gathered in the Home School Study of Language and Literacy Development, the authors share with you the relationship they've found between these critical, early interactions and children's kindergarten language and literacy skills.

You'll explore both the home and school environments of children at ages 3, 4, and 5 and see how families talk to their young children during everyday activities like book reading, toy play, and mealtimes. You'll also examine children's conversations throughout the classroom day and consider how teachers strive to support children's development. In each chapter, you'll

  • see how the data was collected
  • read actual transcripts of parent-child and teacher-child interactions
  • recognize how these interactions relate to later development
  • get suggestions for supporting children's language and literacy development
  • learn how these findings play out in the lives of four of the children in the study

Find out how young children's home and classroom experiences during the preschool years are related to their kindergarten language and literacy skills, and discover the kinds of conversations that make a difference.


Review by: Courtney Cazden, Harvard Graduate School of Education

"Pay attention to the title! Beginning Literacy with Language is the bottom-line message of this longitudinal research on the language and literacy development of Head Start children all the way from preschool through 7th grade. Rich oral language opportunities matter a lot, at home and maybe even more at school. An encouraging and inspiring account of how schools, in early childhood and beyond, can make a difference."

Review by: Edward Zigler

"Vivid descriptions and thoughtful explanations of language development in young children. The book has great value to social scientists studying this enticing field. It also conveys a valuable message to parents and early childhood educators that their everyday interactions with small children form the abilities they will need to achieve literacy as they progress through formal schooling."

Review: Education Review

"Parents who are interested in day-to-day interaction opportunities will find the 'suggestions for parents' sections helpful, as they provide ideas without a lot of technical jargon and research methodologies. Educators will applaud this book for the in-depth research, references, statistics, charts, and actual classroom observations and transcripts. Professors in an academic Education Department may also wish to review a copy for use in an early childhood education curriculum."

Review: Harvard Educational Review

"An excellent resource for an academic course on child development, as it presents a broad picture of the applications of language development theory in education. It also has an instructive quality for the practitioner who may want a summary of theories regarding language and literacy development and empirical findings organized and presented by influential figures in this area of child development. Parents will also find this book useful. After each chapter, the editors present a series of recommendations of best practices for home and school environments."

Table of Contents

Foreword: Sue Bredekamp

  1. Language Development in the Preschool Years - Catherine E. Snow, Patton O. Tabors, and David K. Dickinson
Importance of Language Development in the Preschool Years
Anatomy of a Research Study
The Portrait Children
Purpose of this Book

Section I: Supporting Language and Literacy Development in the Home - Patton O. Tabors

  1. Parents and Children Reading Books Together - Jeanne M. DeTemple
Importance of Book Reading in Children's Development of Language and Literacy Skills
Talk During Book Reading in the Home-School Study
Home Support for Literacy
Suggestions for Parents
  1. Playing at Home: The Talk of Pretend Play - Jane R. Katz
Defining Social Pretend Play
Theoretical Views on the Development of Social Pretend Play
Analyzing the Play Sessions
Suggestions for Parents
  1. Eating and Reading: Links Between Family Conversations with Preschoolers and Later Language and Literacy - Diane E. Beals
Mealtime Data Collection
Literacy Outcomes
Suggestions for Parents
  1. You Know What Oxygen Is?: Learning New Words at Home - Patton O. Tabors, Diane E. Beals, and Zehava O. Weizman
Learning New Words
Support for Rare-Word Use in the Different Conversational Contexts
Relationships Between Rare Words and Kindergarten Vocabulary
Suggestions for Parents
  1. Home Language and Literacy Environment: Final Results - Patton O. Tabors, Kevin A. Roach, and Catherine E. Snow
Magnet Task and Science Process Talk
Home Language and Literacy Environment: Putting the Pieces Together
Home Language and Literacy Environment and Kindergarten Skills

Section II: Supporting Language and Literacy Development in the Preschool Classroom - David K. Dickinson and Miriam W. Smith

Prior Studies of Preschool Supports for Language and Literacy
Classroom Data Collection
Overview of the Chapters in this Section
  1. Children's Experiences in Preschool - Miriam W. Smith
Methodological Considerations
Focus Teachers
Teachers' Pedagogical Beliefs
Teachers' Classroom Practices
  1. Book Reading in Preschool Classrooms: Is Recommended Practice Common? - David K. Dickinson
How Effective Book-Reading Practices Support Literacy Development
Mariana's Classroom: A Didactic Instruction Approach
Todd's Classroom: A Constructivist Approach
Place of Book Reading in the Classroom Day Across All Classrooms
How Two Teachers Read Books
Overall Style of Reading Books
Book-Reading Styles and Group Management
Content of Book Discussions Across Classrooms
Suggestions for Teachers
  1. Language Opportunities During Mealtimes in Preschool Classrooms - Linda R. Cote
Role of Mealtimes in the Head Start Day
Comparisons of the Quality of Mealtime Conversations
Long-Term Implications of Language Use During Mealtimes
Suggestions for Teachers
  1. Large-Group and Free-Play Times: Conversational Settings Supporting Language and Literacy Development - David K. Dickinson
Background Research
Profile Classrooms: Astra's and Casey's Classroom Days
Examining Large-Group Activities in Our Classrooms
Examining Free-Play Activities in Our Classrooms
Shift Between Preschool and Kindergarten
How We Examined Children's Conversations
Relationships Between Language Experiences and Development in Kindergarten
Contributions of Group Times to Language and Literacy in Kindergarten
Contributions of Free Play to Language and Literacy in Kindergarten
Suggestions for Teachers
  1. Putting the Pieces Together: Impact of Preschool on Children's Language and Literacy Development in Kindergarten - David K. Dickinson
Dimensions of Children's Classroom Experiences
Factors Affecting Teacher's Classroom Practices
Examining the Overall Impact of Preschool
Understanding How Classrooms Support Children's Development

Section III: Bringing Homes and Schools Together - David K. Dickinson and Patton O. Tabors

  1. Parent Involvement as a Link Between Home and School - Michelle V. Porche
Measuring Parent Involvement in the Home-School Study
  1. Homes and Schools Together: Supporting Language and Literacy Development - Patton O. Tabors, Catherine E. Snow, and David K. Dickinson
Long-Term Importance of Kindergarten Language and Literacy Skills
Linking Home and School Data
Implications for Practioners and Policymakers

Appendix: Home-School Study Data

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