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Text matters: Exploring the lexical reservoirs of books in preschool rooms

Picture book reading is a well-documented mechanism for enhancing the language and vocabulary of preschool-aged children. However, the robust line of research supporting it contains few studies that give attention to books and the degree to which they offer rare words (i.e., lexical reservoirs). This exploratory text analysis had three purposes (a) to examine the lexical reservoirs of books; (b) to compare the lexical pitch of books to other language samples; and (c) to create clustered lists of highly recommended, high-vocabulary books. Text samples were extracted from over 100 books found in 3-year-old rooms in a range of early childhood instructional settings. On average text samples from books possessed at least three words in their lexical reservoirs and only 19% of samples did not contain reservoirs. A modified replication of the Hayes and Ahrens (1988) lexical pitch study revealed that the pitch of language samples from books found in 3-year-old rooms was quite similar to that of adults' speech. Lastly, a cluster analysis showed that while a sizeable group of books were both recommended and contained text samples with lexically rich words, many were neither recommended nor lexically rich. Although there are many purposes for book reading and many excellent books, the materials found available for vocabulary learning can be enhanced. Implications for practice are shared. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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