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496

Dorsey-Gaines,

1988), others have argued that differences

in access may

have negative consequences schooling (Madden, Slavin, Small- as well as large-scale

for low-income children’s long-term success in Karweit, Dolan, & Wasik, 1993; Maeroff, 1988). analyses (McCormick dc Mason, 1986; Mullis,

Campbell,

& Farstrup,

1993) have shown substantial

dren’s

reading

and

writing

ability

as

a

function

of

the

differences

economic

in chil- level of

their families. Poor families social resources, differences tion and involvement in the

have unequal access to materials, books, and that may critically influence parent participa- educational experiences of their children.

An accumulation

of studies (Bus, Van Ijzendoorn,

& Pellegrini,

1995;

Cochran-Smith, 1985; Whitehurst ing experiences

1984; Dickinson & Smith,

1994; Hewison,

1988; Wells,

et are

al., 1994) especially

suggest that important

access to books and shared read- in children’s early language and

literacy development. an interactive context and conceptual skills. ment (Rogoff, 1990; ance assists children

As an intensely social activity, book reading provides for children to acquire and practice developing verbal

Vygotsky (1978) and Tharp & Gallimore, with opportunities

neo-Vygotskian views of develop-

1988) emphasize that

to

participate

beyond

social their

guid- own

abilities, and to internalize

activities practiced

socially, advancing their

capabilities for language development,

independent thinking, and problem

solving. Although some have recently questioned

atory

power

of

parent-preschooler

book

reading

the strength of the explan- (Scarborough & Dobrich,

1994), correlational

and descriptive studies (Bus et al., 1995) consistently

demonstrate relationships with outcome measures of language growth, emer- g e n t l i t e r a c y s k i l l s , a n d r e a d i n g a c h i e v e m e n t .

Yet as reported

by McGill-Franzen

and Allington (1994), many low-

income communities have few resources available in their homes or child care sites. McCormick and Mason (1986), for instance, reported large dif- ferences in availability of printed materials for children in the homes of low- and middle-income children. Lacking access to book materials, many young children, therefore, may not be exposed to the cognitive and linguistic richness of talk that experiences with books provide. Thus, differences in access to books may influence the amount of exposure, and the opportunities for young children to engage with literary materials, laying the groundwork for future disparities among middle- and low-income children.

This (Tough,

view contrasts 1982) that has

sharply

with

a “culture of

attributed

low

levels of parent

poverty perspective” involvement to lower

values

placed

on

education.

Rather,

an

argument

for

access

suggests

that

the variance in achievement the resources and strategies school. Goldenberg (1987),

lies not in the value placed on education, but on

available to for example,

enhance children’s performance in found that the low-income Hispanic

parents in his study were highly motivated but were uncertain as to what they could or

to help their children succeed, should do to promote reading, a

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