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Journal of Research in Reading

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Background Numerous studies have observed a significant and unique relationship between children's use of nonmainstream dialect and reading outcomes. We aimed to examine the relationship between nonmainstream dialect and reading at its roots by completing a preliminary evaluation of the relationship between African American English (AAE) dialect and multiple dimensions of emergent literacy skills in young African American children enrolled in Head Start. Methods Seventy-eight African American preschoolers completed the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening-PreK (PALS-PreK) and a narrative retell of the wordless picture book, Frog, Where Are You? The narratives were used to generate three measures of narrative productivity and the dialect density measure (DDM). Results Structural equation modelling found that the PALS-PreK measures significantly loaded onto a single print-related emergent literacy latent variable and that the three narrative measures significantly loaded onto a single language-based emergent literacy latent variable. There was a significant relationship between print-related emergent literacy skills and DDM, but the overall model had a poor fit, showing that the relationship between emergent literacy and DDM was weak. Conclusions We conclude the manuscript by discussing implications of this research and suggestions for further study.


Accepted version. Journal of Research in Reading, Vol. 45, No. 4 (2022): 567-586. DOI. © 2022 Wiley. Used with permission.

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