Of the 64 reviews, 8 are devoted to print-related topics.
These reviews were published between 1981 and 1999. Two notable findings
touched on throughout the research literature are:
Children develop knowledge
of print and written language even before learning to read or beginning
Environmental print (i.e.,
the print found in children’s surroundings, such as on billboards, road
signs, etc.) likely plays a significant role in children’s reading
Overall, teachers and parents can help children develop
print knowledge by reading with them, creating environments rich in literacy
materials, using environmental print to teach letters and words in
meaningful contexts, and teaching individual print words in a number of
contexts (i.e., alone, accompanied by picture cues, and in written
Ceprano, M. A. (1981).
A review of selected research on methods of teaching sight words. Reading
Teacher, 35(3), 314-322.
How can we help children recognize words by
sight? Learning to read individual words can be enhanced by pointing out to
the child the distinctive features of words and using pictures to help the
child understand and remember the meaning of the words. However, most
children also need to be taught words within a written context to ensure
they understand that reading functions to increase understanding and
Doctor, E.A. (1981).
Considering reading cognitively: A review. South African Journal of
Psychology, 11(2), 55-66.
Do we understand printed words entirely by
sight when reading, or do we translate all or some of what we see into the
sounds of spoken language, even when reading silently? Overall, the use of
sound-based reading seems to depend on the reading context, the complexity
of the material, and the skill of the reader. Reading may be predominantly
visual for the deaf and adult skilled readers. Beginning and poor
readers, on the other hand, seem to use a largely sound-based reading
strategy. There is obviously always a visual element to reading, and whether
sound-based reading processes take place before, after, or during sight
reading is unknown. It is also not known whether sound-based reading is an
essential part of skilled reading.
Kontos, S. (1986).
What preschool children know about reading and how they learn it. Young
Children, 42(1), 58-66.
To learn to read children need to understand
what print is, and how and why it is used. Adults can help children develop
print knowledge by reading and discussing stories with them, modeling
reading and writing, answering print-related questions, and creating
environments with a variety of reading and writing play-materials.
Goodstadt-Killoran, I., Aldridge, J., & Kirkland, L. (1999). A review of
research on environmental print. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 26(3),
The print found within children’s natural
surroundings—for instance, on road signs, grocery labels, and fast-food
signs—can contribute to their early literacy development. Through
environmental print children develop knowledge about reading and writing
even before they have had any formal reading instruction. The authors
suggest using environmental print as a teaching tool by drawing
attention to words on billboards, cereal boxes, and so forth, as a way
of teaching children letters and words in meaningful contexts.
McGee, L. M. (1986).
Young children's environmental print reading. Childhood Education, 63(2),
Research about environmental print, the
print children commonly see in their natural surroundings (on road signs,
grocery labels, fast-food signs, etc), has revealed much about children’s
understanding of reading and the written language. Even as young as three
years old, long before most begin reading, children understand that print
has meaning. While the existence of a direct relationship between
environmental print and the development of reading ability has yet to be
discovered, environmental print probably starts young children on the road
to more skilled reading. Teachers should use young children’s interest in
environmental print as a springboard into other literacy activities. As
non-readers, children show little interest in isolated print, so teachers
need to seize every opportunity to teach children words in meaningful
(1986). Three levels of understanding about written language acquired by
young children prior to formal instruction. National
Children learn about written language on three
levels. First, they learn about language as a whole, and the role it plays
within their culture. Second, they learn about the nature and
characteristics of written language. Third, they learn about the
relationship between print and speech. It is important to note that learning
at all three levels takes place simultaneously, and that the three levels of
learning occur prior to direct instruction. Therefore, no child enters
formal reading and writing instruction with a blank slate, yet not all
children begin instruction with the same knowledge. Overall, children who
interact with a literate culture tend to be more ready for formal reading
Teale, W. H. (1987).
Emergent literacy: reading and writing development in early childhood.
While children do not always use adult-like
learning strategies, they remain active constructors of knowledge,
especially with respect to reading and writing. Even before formal reading
instruction begins, young children actively engage in language-based
interactions with their world. For instance, there is strong indication that
reading to children and providing a literacy rich environment helps the
development of their reading and writing skills. The print found within
children’s natural surroundings—for instance, on road signs, grocery labels,
and fast-food signs—also seems to play a role early literacy, however the
nature of that role remains unclear. Research evidence can and is being
successfully applied to teaching young children to read.
van Kleeck, A. (1990).
Emergent literacy: learning about print before learning to read. Topics
in Language Disorders, 10(2), 25-45.
Almost from birth,
children begin to learn about print by encountering meaningful real-life
situations where print is used. Children’s knowledge of print comes from
learning about both reading and writing. While there is a great deal of
variability in the rate of children’s early literacy development, language
delays in the preschool years often foreshadow difficulties in reading,
writing, and spelling during the early school years. The development of
pre-literacy knowledge of print can be promoted in both normal and language
delayed preschoolers. Guided, informal, everyday interactions involving
print (such as storybook reading), and encouraging literacy-related pretend
play and game-like literacy activities provide foundations for
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