The Early Childhood Project: A 5-Year Longitudinal Investigation of Children’s Literacy Development in Sociocultural Context

Part of the Literacy Studies book series (LITS, volume 2)


The Early Childhood Project examined the intimate culture of young children’s homes, defined by a confluence of parental beliefs, recurrent activities, and interactive processes, and the relation between that intimate culture and the children’s literacy development. The children in the 5-year longitudinal study came from low- and middle-income families of European-American and African-American heritage. Families joined the project when the children were in prekindergarten or kindergarten. Results showed the importance of parental beliefs and children’s home experiences to children’s literacy development. Although low and middle income children had somewhat different home literacy experiences, the intimate culture of the home was a more powerful predictor of literacy development than demographic factors such as family income and ethnicity. Children coming from an intimate culture that emphasized an entertainment approach, one that focuses on making interactions enjoyable and engaging for young children, were more likely to be involved in affectively positive reading interactions with their caregivers, to engage in frequent interactions with age-appropriate text, and, consequently to benefit in the development of literacy competencies.


Reading Comprehension Phonological Awareness Literacy Development Emergent Literacy Storybook Reading 
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This chapter is based on a portion of the material presented in our book, Serpell, R., Baker, L., & Sonnenschein, S. (2005), Becoming literate in the city: The Baltimore Early Childhood Project. NY: Cambridge. We received funding for this study from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01 HD29737-0A1) and the National Reading Research Center (contracted by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement/PR/Award no. 117A20007). We are very grateful to the families who participated in this project and the many graduate and undergraduate students who assisted us.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Sonnenschein
    • 1
  • Linda Baker
    • 1
  • Robert Serpell
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Maryland, Baltimore CountyBaltimoreUSA

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