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Dev Psychol. 2008 May;44(3):855-66. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.44.3.855.

Influence of verbal and nonverbal references to print on preschoolers' visual attention to print during storybook reading.

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  • 1Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, University of Virginia, USA.


How much do preschool children look at print within storybooks when adults read to them? This study sought to answer this question as well as to examine the effects of adult verbal and nonverbal references to print on children's visual attention to print during storybook reading. Forty-four preschool-aged children participated in this study designed to determine the amount of visual attention children paid to print in 4 planned variations of storybook reading. Children's visual attention to print was examined when adults commented and questioned about print (verbal print condition) or pointed to and tracked the print (nonverbal print condition), relative to 2 comparison conditions (verbatim reading and verbal picture conditions). Results showed that children rarely look at print, with about 5%-6% of their fixations allocated to print in verbatim and verbal picture reading conditions. However, preschoolers' visual attention to print increases significantly when adults verbally and nonverbally reference print; both reading styles exerted similar effects. The authors conclude that explicit referencing of print is 1 way to increase young children's contacts with print during shared storybook reading.

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