Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading
Preschoolers' Developing Ownership of the Literate Register
Beverly E. Cox
Beverly White Otto
Registers are particular configurations of linguistic choices that are conventional for particular contexts; changing among registers is equated with “code switching” by Halliday (1978, p. 68). Cohesive and wording options are among aspects that distinguish face-to-face oral (i.e., a told tale) from literate (i.e., a written-for-others text) registers. While cohesive devices have long been studied and/or manipulated in texts with elementary children and adolescents, the present study breaks from those traditions in its theoretical perspective, design, conceptualization of cohesion as contextually adapted clause level redundancies, and its focus on emergent literacy. The participants were 48 preschoolers, divided by age (4, 5), gender, income (low, middle), cognitive aptitude (regular, gifted), and emergent reading (Sulzby's 1985 categories). The data, 96 texts (48 oral, 48 literate register), were analyzed for indices of context/registerappropriate cohesion (Hasan, 1984) and wording choices. Multiple analyses of variance found statistically significant income and emergent reading category main effects. Univariate analyses revealed middle income and the picture governed, written-like emergent reading category were statistically significant indicators of greater control over such text. Qualitative analyses supported and elaborated the quantitative findings to suggest developmental patterns and an identifiable level of code-switching expertise as a potential precursor to successful English literacy development.
[This chapter is reprinted from Reading Research Quarterly, 32(1), 34–43. http://dx.doi.org/10.1598/RRQ.32.1.3]
Cox, B.E., Fang, Z., & Otto, B. (2004).
Preschoolers' Developing Ownership of the Literate Register.
In R.B. Ruddell, & N.J. Unrau (Eds.), Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading (pp. 281-312). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.