Storybook reading strategies and academic literate cultural capital : closing the literacy gap before it opens : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
While New Zealand reading achievement ranks highly in the international arena,
the gap between high- and low-ability readers is far greater than that in most other
countries. The lower-ability readers hail disproportionately from homes with low
income, and their cultural capital often does not match the culture of their schools.
They commonly have less academic literate cultural capital (ALCC), which
encompasses skills, knowledge, values and attitudes that are related to
conventional literacy. Prior to conventional literacy development, ALCC and
emergent literacy skills are similar. Storybook reading is a beneficial parent-child
activity which has been harnessed by intervention research as a vehicle through
which to build on emergent literacy skills. Much print-referencing and dialogic
reading-strategy research has been conducted, showing positive effects on
children’s emergent reading development and therefore on their ALCC.
The quasi-experimental study, on which this thesis is based, used two DVDs
to educate parents from low-income areas about print-referencing and dialogic
reading strategies. Thirty parent-child dyads were recruited through
kindergartens which were geographically close to a decile one school. Fifteen dyads
formed the intervention group, which was given two DVDs over a four week
intervention period, and 15 dyads formed the control group. Data was collected
before, during, and after the intervention from parents and their young children,
using a mix of quantitative and qualitative measures. Parental reading behaviours
and beliefs appeared to change as a result of the intervention; parents from the
intervention group reported the use of more print-referencing behaviours during
storybook reading than their control group counterparts. In particular,
intervention parents made significantly more references to letter knowledge (LK).
Most parents believed the intervention to have been beneficial to them and their
children, and deemed the study material effective. Children from the intervention
group reported more reading to occur post-intervention than it did preintervention.
While the majority of their tested emergent literacy skills increased
more than those of the control children after the study, the differences were not
significant. The thesis concludes by recommending more research of a similar
nature, taking into account several important changes. Additionally, it
recommends qualitative research into the cultural capital of New Zealand’s ethnic