Drawing upon recent research findings and upon a case study of a child learning to talk and to read, Catherine Snow outlines the important similarities in the development of both language and literacy. The characteristics of parent-child interaction which support language acquisition—semantic contingency, scaffolding, accountability procedures,and the use of routines—also facilitate early reading and writing development. The author dismisses the explanation that variations in the level of literacy in the home are responsible for social class differences in school achievement. To explain such differences,Snow emphasizes distinctive ways in which middle-class families prepare preschoolers to understand and produce decontextualized language.

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