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Wordless picture books boost preschoolers' language production during shared reading

Prior research shows that shared book reading promotes preschoolers' language and literacy skills. However, little is known about the potential role of books' features -- in particular, the role of using wordless picture books compared with books with text -- in children's spontaneous language production and teachers' instructional support. In this study, we transcribed verbal interactions of thirteen Colombian teachers reading to groups of children (aged 43-55 months) during reading sessions in Spanish using a wordless picture book (condition 1) and a prototypical storybook with text (condition 2). Books were matched for page length, type and theme. Using Computerized Language Analysis (CLAN), we found that in the wordless-picture-book condition children produced significantly more word tokens, word types and utterances, and teachers showed higher levels of instructional support. Regression analyses revealed a significant association between children's language production and teachers' quality of feedback during literacy instruction, suggesting that wordless picture books may boost children's language by enhancing instructional support. (author abstract)
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