Issues in Emergent Literacy
for Children With Language Impairments

CIERA Report #2-002

Joan E. Kaderavek, Eastern Michigan University
Elizabeth Sulzby, University of Michigan

CIERA Inquiry 2: Home and School
How can preschoolers who are identified as having specific language impairments develop as readers in the primary grades? What can we learn about children's language development by observing them in emergent reading activities?

In this paper, Kaderavek and Sulzby ask how findings from emergent literacy (the study of the reading and writing behaviors that develop into conventional literacy) can combine with findings from oral language development to expand the scope of services provided to preschoolers with language impairments. After giving an overview of major concepts and research of emergent literacy, Kaderavek and Sulzby draw on their own research to demonstrate two primary contributions of emergent literacy for language-remediation services for preschoolers.

Kaderavek and Sulzby present case studies of two language-impaired children who show differing levels of interest in books. Their analyses showed that enjoyment of storybook reading was linked to consistency in parental expectations and use of language, regardless of the context. These findings have implications both for language-remediation specialists' practice and for the suggestions they give parents. Also, Kaderavek and Sulzby's research shows that assessing language-impaired preschoolers using an emergent reading task in addition to an oral narrative task can give useful data.

By incorporating emergent literacy perspectives and methods into language-remediation services for preschoolers, Kaderavek and Sulzby conclude that children's facility with language can be enhanced.

University of Michigan School of Education

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Chapter forthcoming in Watson, L. R., Layton, T. L., & Crais, E. R. (Eds.), Handbook of early language impairment in children (Vol. II). New York: Delmar.