Development of emergent literacy and early reading skills in preschool children: evidence from a latent-variable longitudinal study

Dev Psychol. 2000 Sep;36(5):596-613. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.36.5.596.


Although research has identified oral language, print knowledge, and phonological sensitivity as important emergent literacy skills for the development of reading, few studies have examined the relations between these aspects of emergent literacy or between these skills during preschool and during later reading. This study examined the joint and unique predictive significance of emergent literacy skills for both later emergent literacy skills and reading in two samples of preschoolers. Ninety-six children (mean age = 41 months, SD = 9.41) were followed from early to late preschool, and 97 children (mean age = 60 months, SD = 5.41) were followed from late preschool to kindergarten or first grade. Structural equation modeling revealed significant developmental continuity of these skills, particularly for letter knowledge and phonological sensitivity from late preschool to early grade school, both of which were the only unique predictors of decoding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Development*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Phonetics
  • Reading*
  • Verbal Learning