Linda Meyer (right) collects data with a young reader.
Doctoral student Linda Meyer is exploring how children’s vocabulary and reading comprehension develop through early experiences of reading with their parents. Linda states, "I’m predicting that the more a child talks and engages with the story, the better her reading and vocabulary development will be in the long run." She is measuring "interest-related talk" which includes measures of engagement in and enjoyment of the reading experience.
For a long time, the literature on how children learn to read has focused on how adults influence children’s development. Linda wants to shift the focus and use the child’s own behavior during reading to predict how well they learn to read. If children’s interest during reading proves to be an important factor, parents could facilitate their children’s learning by choosing books related to the child’s interests and providing reading-related experiences that are of interest to the child. Then, Linda says, "We can continue to explore how children shape their own development."