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The effect of activity with e-book on vocabulary and story comprehension: A comparison between kindergarteners at risk of learning disabilities and typically developing kindergarteners



The purpose of the current study was to investigate the effectiveness of e-book activity for vocabulary acquisition and story comprehension among kindergarteners at risk for learning disabilities (LD) as opposed to typically developing (TD) children. Participants included 136 children aged between five and seven (M = 71.2; SD = 5.64, in months), 75 LD and 60 typically developing children. The children in each group were then randomly assigned to either the e-book intervention or the control group, which experienced the regular kindergarten program – a total of four groups. The findings indicated significant improvement in vocabulary among both groups exposed to the e-book intervention. Conversely, typically developing children received higher scores for story comprehension than did children at risk for LD following the intervention. These findings and their implications are discussed.
E-book, Emergent literacy and kindergarteners at risk for LD
The effect of activity with e-book on vocabulary and story comprehension: A
comparison between kindergarteners at risk for LD and typically developing
Adina Shamir, Ofra Korat & Inessa Shlafer
Bar-Ilan University
Accepted, July, 2010
European Journal of Special Education
Corresponding author:
Dr. Adina Shamir
23, Yoav St, Tel- Aviv, 69081, Israel
Tel: +03-6477779
Fax: +03-6477579
Key words: Vocabulary, Story Comprehension; Electronic Books; Preschoolers at
Risk for LD
E-book, Emergent literacy and kindergarteners at risk for LD
The purpose of the current study was to investigate the effectiveness of e-book
activity for vocabulary acquisition and story comprehension among kindergarteners at
risk for learning disabilities (LD) as opposed to typically developing (TD) children.
Participants included 136 children aged 5-7 (M=71.2; SD=5.64, in months), 75 LD
and 60 typically developing children. The children in each group were then randomly
assigned to either the e-book intervention or the control group, which experienced the
regular kindergarten program, a total of four groups. The findings indicated
significant improvement in vocabulary among both groups exposed to the e-book
intervention. Conversely, typically developing children received higher scores for
story comprehension than did children at risk for LD following the intervention.
These findings and their implications are discussed.
E-book, Emergent literacy and kindergarteners at risk for LD
The effect of activity with e-book on vocabulary and story comprehension: A
comparison between kindergarteners at risk for learning disabilities (LD) and
typically developing kindergarteners
Acquisition of reading and writing skills is among the major difficulties faced
by students with learning disabilities (American National Joint Committee on
Learning Disabilities, NJCLD, ). These skills are especially important because
they provide the foundations for successful learning in school and integration into
modern, technology-oriented society (Stanovich, 2000). The current study therefore
focuses on two oral language skills associated with emergent literacy: vocabulary and
story comprehension.
Prior to the advent of computer technology, joint adult-child reading of books
represented the child's initial literacy activity (Bus, van Ijzendoorn, & Pellegrini,
1995; Snow & Ninio, 1986). This experience continues to be the most motivating and
engaging of emergent literacy events (Bus, Ijzendoorn, & Pellegrini, 1995; Sénéchal,
2006). Nonetheless, young children are becoming increasingly exposed to reading via
computer-based electronic storybooks ("e-books", “living books”, "talking books" or
"CD-ROM storybooks"), tools having the potential to support children's emergent
literacy. In response to this change in exposure, the current study seeks to investigate
the effectiveness of e-books for promoting vocabulary and story comprehension of
kindergarteners at risk for LD (ALD) when compared to typically developing (TD)
Put simply, e-books are digital versions of print format children's books. E-
books may either duplicate the print version's text and illustrations or introduce new
E-book, Emergent literacy and kindergarteners at risk for LD
multimedia features: animation, music, sound effects, illuminated text, hot spots and
narration (De Jong & Bus, 2003; Labbo & Kuhn, 2000; Leferver-Davis & Pearman,
2005; Shamir & Korat, 2007). The literature suggests that such multimedia effects can
support the young child’s orientation to books per se, to print knowledge, oral
language and story comprehension (De Jong & Bus, 2003; Labbo & Kuhn, 2000;
Shamir & Korat, 2009; Wood, Pillinger & Jackson, 2010). Research has likewise
shown that synchronization of highlighted text with a narrator's reading helps children
keep track of the written text, a skill possibly supporting the child's association
between print and reading (De Jong & Bus, 2003).
Some testing of e-book effectiveness has already been conducted among
students at risk (e.g., immigrant and low SES children) as well as those lagging in
language proficiency (Korat & Shamir, 2007; Littleton, Wood, & Chera, 2006;
Segers, Nooijen, & de Moor, 2006; Shamir, 2009; Shamir & Korat, 2007; Verhallen,
Bus, & De Jong, 2006). For instance, Shamir, Korat and Barbi (2008) observed
improvement in low SES children's emergent literacy skills such as vocabulary,
phonological awareness and concept about print (CAP) after using a specially
designed educational e-book while Segers et al. (2006) found that children with
physical disabilities improved vocabulary retention after an intervention with
computer-read stories. This research suggests that preschool children at risk for LD
may also benefit from this new technology.
Yet, despite these positive findings regarding the e-book's enhancement of
children's verbal knowledge (Lewin, 2000; Segers & Verhoeven, 2002; Shamir, 2009;
Shamir & Korat, 2007) and story understanding (Labbo & Kuhn, 2000; Shamir et al.,
2008; Underwood & Underwood, 1998), the final results remain inconclusive. To
illustrate, research by Zucker, Moody and McKenna (2009) has suggested that when
E-book, Emergent literacy and kindergarteners at risk for LD
e-books are used with students in pre-K through grade 5, the technology's practical
effects on reading comprehension outcomes are likely to be moderate to small
(average ES weighted for sample size: d = 0.31). Others have reported inconsistent
results with respect to story comprehension (De Jong & Bus, 2002, 2004; Korat &
Shamir, 2007). In a recent meta-analysis conducted by Zucker, Moody and McKenna
(2009), the authors claim that although an e-book's features may be motivating (Adam
& Wild, 1997) and beneficial for struggling readers, further research is needed to test
these possibilities.
Some researchers explain the variation in results by arguing that the e-book's
interactive features distract from the story line (Underwood & Underwood, 1998) and
that the lack of congruence between e-book features and narrative induces passivity
among young readers (Labbo & Kuhn, 2000). We propose that these inconsistencies
may result from the range of e-book quality with respect to literacy development (De
Jong & Bus, 2003; Korat & Shamir, 2004) as well as differences in study design, the
subjects' age, and individual characteristics. These contradictory findings and range of
explanations demand further research on e-books as educational tools within specified
pedagogical frameworks as well as on the populations most likely to benefit from
such programs.
We chose to investigate whether ALD children can benefit from e-book use to
the same degree as typically developing children. The two emergent literacy skills
targeted vocabulary and story comprehension were selected on the basis of their
high predictive value regarding future academic success (Stanovich, 2000; Whitehurst
& Lonigan, 2001). Due to their difficulties with learning (Swanson, Harris, &
Graham, 2003), ALD children may require alternative emergent literacy-enhancing
pedagogies, such as those meant to compensate for information storage and retrieval
E-book, Emergent literacy and kindergarteners at risk for LD
issues. Our research was therefore aimed at shedding some light on the factors to be
dealt with.
In the current study, we employed one of the specially constructed educational
e-books designed by us to foster emergent literacy among young children with
diverse academic needs. Each of the e-book's three operational modes “read story
only", “read story with dictionary", and “read story and play" – was programmed to
be activated separately so as to avoid distraction from story reading/listening (De
Jong & Bus, 2003). These, like other of the e-book's features (e.g., text tracking and
highlighting printed text as it is narrated) were developed to support emergent literacy
skills such as vocabulary and story comprehension. The dictionary therefore included
oral explanations accompanied by visual illustrations, a combination intended to
promote multi-sensory learning; children could also activate the e-book's different
modes as often as they wished. The dialogue and animations, like the other
activations, were designed to facilitate scaffolding of story comprehension (De Jong
& Bus, 2003; Shamir, 2008). All told, the e-book's contents and computerized
functions complied with the demands of the edutainment model (Underwood &
Underwood, 1998), an approach found to often enhance vocabulary acquisition
(Shamir, 2009; Shamir & Korat, 2007) in addition to story comprehension (Korat &
Shamir, 2007; Shamir, Korat & Barbi, 2008).
Based on the literature exploring the effectiveness of learning-oriented
technologies (Eshet-Alkalai, 2004; Hezroni, 2004; Reinking, 1997) in general and our
own research (e.g., Korat & Shamir, 2007), we posited that the e-book's features
could effectively support vocabulary acquisition and story comprehension among
young ALD children. We also posited that the children's level of story comprehension
E-book, Emergent literacy and kindergarteners at risk for LD
following exposure to the e-book would be comparable to the level attained after
exposure to printed books (see De Jong & Bus, 2002, 2004).
Three research questions were consequently formulated: (1) Will the
children's (ALD and TD) vocabulary scores improve between pre- and post-
intervention exposure to the educational e-book? (2) Will any differences in the level
of improvement in vocabulary be observed as a function of group type (ALD versus
TD)? (3) Will any differences in the level of story comprehension be observed as a
function of group type (ALD vs TD)?
The sample of  kindergarten students aged 5-7 (M=71.2; SD=5.64, in
months), of whom  () were boys and  () girls, included  children
who had been previously diagnosed by Israel's Ministry of Education's Educational
Psychological Services as being at risk for learning disabilities (LD). According to
Ministry of Education policy, young children who evidence difficulties in meeting
developmental criteria regarding perception, language and emergent literacy, memory
or motor abilities may be at risk for having learning disability. The sample's other 60
participants were typically developing children (TD). Children of each type were
randomly assigned to experimental (exposure to the e-book intervention) and control
(exposure to the regular kindergarten program) groups: TD experimental (n-28) and
TD control (n=32) and ALD experimental (n=42) and ALD control (n=34) groups.
We should note here that the number of participants per group varied due to declining
participation. In anticipation of the possibility that some children would be unable to
maintain their level of participation in all six e-book intervention sessions, we initially
E-book, Emergent literacy and kindergarteners at risk for LD
selected a larger number of ALD children; unexpectedly, the dropout rate was higher
among the control children.
The ALD participants were selected on the basis of four criteria: (a) They had
been diagnosed as being at risk for LD; (b) They exhibited no evidence of other
potential causes of learning problems, such as low intelligence (an IQ below 70) and
sensory or emotional impairment (NJCLD, 2006); (c) They were Hebrew speakers;
and (d) Their verbal performance was below their non verbal performance.
Based on reports submitted by their kindergarten teachers, the ALD children
exhibited four main types of difficulty: language difficulties (n=44, 57.9%), attention
deficit problems (n=20, 26.3%), memory difficulties (n=12, 15.8%) and motor issues
(n=5, 6.6%). As expected, subtests showed significant differences in verbal ability
between the ALD and TD children (F(1,132)=29.19, p<.001, ηp2=.12 but not in non
verbal ability (F(1,132)=0.06, p>.05). These findings further indicated that all the
participants in the ALD group complied with the definition of populations at risk for
learning disabilities (NJCLD, 2006).
The children’s vocabulary level was assessed before and after the e-book
activity. Their cognitive level was assessed only before the intervention whereas
their story comprehension (retelling) was assessed solely at the post-intervention
stage. All the tests were administered to each child individually in a quiet room in the
kindergarten by the same experimenter, an undergraduate student trained by this
paper's first author. Scoring was likewise conducted by the same experimenter.
Cognitive level. To obtain a sufficiently uniform sample, the children's verbal
and non verbal cognitive levels were tested by means of two subtests from the
Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (KABC) (Kaufman & Kaufman, 1983), a
E-book, Emergent literacy and kindergarteners at risk for LD
standardized intelligence test that can be administered to subjects aged 2.5 and older.
Students earning scores less than two standard deviations below the mean in one of
the two subtests were excluded.
Verbal ability (KABC Antonyms Subtest). This subtest contains 18 common
Hebrew words. Subjects are asked to provide antonyms for each. Prior to testing, they
practice a sample item, followed by corrective feedback and explanations. Each
correct answer is scored 1; total scores thus range from 0 to 18 ( )
Non verbal intelligence (KABC Parallels Subtest). The subtest tests a child's
ability to complete 2x2 visual parallels. The subtest requires the experimenter to
present cards showing visual parallels in which one element is missing. The child is
then asked to select a picture or form that best completes the original relationship. The
test's 19 items were of increasing difficulty, with the first four items used to clarify
the concept parallelism. A score of 1 is given for each proper completion of the
parallel; total score range: 019. The test's reliability coefficient is
Vocabulary. To test vocabulary acquisition following the intervention, the
children were asked to give the meanings of 10 words taken from the story's text and
appearing in the e-book's dictionary mode. Given that our population consisted of
ALD preschoolers, we designed a vocabulary test requiring the children to simply
point to the one picture in a set of four that they thought best expressed a word's
meaning. The test's preliminary phase entailed an oral presentation of three easy
words in order to help the children understand the task. Each correct answer in the test
received 1 point; total score range: 0-10. This measure's reliability coefficient was
=.71 as a result of the different difficulty level attached to each word.
Story comprehension. The participants' story comprehension was assessed
using a story retelling method, which has been found to be more reliable than other
E-book, Emergent literacy and kindergarteners at risk for LD
methods when testing preschoolers (e.g., De Jong & Bus, 2003; Shamir, Korat, &
Barbi, 2008). The children were asked to relate the story from its printed format,
which included the same text and illustrations. Their accounts were audiotaped and
transcribed to enable analysis of how much the child's version resembled the original
text in terms of content. Their accounts were coded according to degree of
comprehension of the main idea per page. Four scores were assigned: 3=full
reflection, 2=almost full reflection; 1=partial reflection; 0=no reflection. As the book
contained 15 pages, total scores ranged from 0 to 45. In order to validate the process,
two raters first analyzed the protocols of 10 participants. Only after 90% agreement
was reached were the remaining protocols reviewed.
The Educational E-book
The e-book used in this study was a specially constructed electronic version of Yuval
Hamebulbal (Confused Yuval) by Miriam Roth (2000), designed to capture general
educational principles, especially promotion of emergent literacy (De Jong & Bus,
2003; Korat & Shamir, 2004; Shamir & Korat, 2006). The story's protagonist is
Yuval, a young boy who tends to be confused and forgetful until his grandmother
makes him a special hat to help him remember. Each of the original book's 15 pages
includes a large colored drawing, covering at least half the page, and 3-5 sentences,
totaling not more than 40 words; these were scanned to construct the e-book. The text
is printed in pointed letters (nekudot in Hebrew, indicating vowels) to facilitate
reading among beginners.
Main e-book activations: To explain the different activation options, an
animated figure was added to the book's electronic version. Three interactivity modes
were offered: (1) Read story only, (2) Read story with dictionary, and (3) Read story
and play. Each mode initiated an oral reading of the printed text. Automatic dynamic
E-book, Emergent literacy and kindergarteners at risk for LD
visuals, music and film effects dramatized story details. To avoid distraction from the
reading task, no more than five automatic dynamic visuals appeared per page. To
stimulate a pro-reading orientation, a forward button (a colored arrow pointing to the
right) and a backward button (a colored arrow pointing to the left) appeared on each
screen, making it possible to return or advance at will. Another function enabled
repetition of reading/listening to the text. To strengthen the relationship between the
printed text and its narration, written phrases were highlighted as they were read aloud
(De Jong & Bus, 2002).
Description of the main modes: The read story only mode included an oral
reading of the printed text as well as reading-supporting automatic dynamic visuals.
The read story with dictionary mode included explanations for 10 difficult words that
appeared automatically on the screen after the entire page had been narrated. As each
difficult word appeared, it was pronounced clearly by the narrator while illustrative
pictures were shown. Importantly, children could reactivate the dictionary at will. The
read story and play mode provided hotspots that could be clicked as they appeared on
(a) characters or objects and (b) words. Character or object activation was designed to
enrich story comprehension by initiating a discourse between the main characters and
voice/sound effects. To avoid the distractive aspects of interactivity, hotspots were
programmed for activation only after the narrator had completed reading a page's text.
Prior to the e-book intervention, the cognitive assessment and vocabulary
subtests were administered.
The intervention. Work with the e-book) involved a total of six structured
sessions, two in each of the three modes. The sessions lasted 20-35 minutes. Only six
sessions were held as a result of pilot study's findings indicating that children in this
E-book, Emergent literacy and kindergarteners at risk for LD
age group become significantly less motivated to work with the same e-book
following their sixth exposure to the material. After being shown how the software
operated, the following general instructions were given: “We’ve brought you a new e-
book that we would like you to work with. After you finish working with the
computer, we’ll ask you some questions about the story. That’s why we want you to
look carefully at the pictures but also at the text". The intervention's implementation
was observed for treatment fidelity when following instructions.
Children in the ALD and TD control groups were not exposed to the
educational e-book; they participated in the regular kindergarten activities only.
Formal instruction of reading and writing in Israeli schools begins with entry into
elementary school. Children are frequently read to from storybooks and encouraged to
voluntarily browse through books. In special education kindergartens, each child
participates in individualized activities designed especially for him or her. Preparation
for reading is sometimes introduced through participation in games focusing on
syllabic segmentation and rhyming. Children in this age group usually recognize their
written names and write them on their art works. Most kindergarten classes have only
one computer, which sometimes contains e-books.
After the intervention, vocabulary was retested. Story retelling was assessed
only at the post-intervention stage and solely with children who had read the e-book.
We herein transmit the research findings according to our research goals:
assessment of (a) vocabulary improvement following the treatment (e-book versus the
control) among the two types of participants: ALD versus TD children; and (b) story
comprehension between the ALD and the TD children following e-book activity.
E-book, Emergent literacy and kindergarteners at risk for LD
Vocabulary Improvement Following E-Book Activity
Vocabulary improvement was analyzed by comparing the pre- and post-test
scores of the treatment groups (e-book/ control) and type of children (ALD and TD).
Preliminary analyses of the differences in vocabulary scores prior to the
intervention showed no significant treatment group (e-book versus control)
differences (F(1,132)=2.41, p>.05). However, as expected, significant group differences
in vocabulary scores (F(1,132)=25.13, p<.001; ηp2=.16) were found between ALD and
TD children.
To determine the effect of activity with the e-book on children's vocabulary,
we used an ANCOVA (2 x 2) of Treatment (experimental/control) by type of child
(ALD/ TD); the dependent variable was the post-intervention score, with the pre-
intervention score functioning as the covariant due to the significant differences in
vocabulary scores between the ALD and TD groups.
Significant differences in vocabulary improvement (F(1,131)=239.49, p<.001,
ηp2=.64) were found between the two treatment groups (F(1,131)=4.96, p<.05, ηp2=.36) .
No interaction effect of Treatment by Type of child was obtained (F(1,131)=.284,
p>.05,). Means and standard deviations are shown in Table 1.
Insert Table 1 about here
As can be seen in Table 1, each of the four groups showed improvement in
vocabulary from pre-test to post-test; however, the e-book groups showed higher
improvement (F(1,70)=448.57, p<.001, η2=.87) than did the control groups
(F(1,64)=24.10, p<.001, η2=.27). In addition, the ALD group showed higher vocabulary
improvement (F(1,75)=107.83, p<.001, η2=.59) than did the TD group (F(1,59)=60.40,
p<.05; ηp2=.50). This finding supports our hypothesis regarding the e-book's
E-book, Emergent literacy and kindergarteners at risk for LD
contribution to vocabulary acquisition,
Story Comprehension Following E-Book Activity, ALD and TD Children
As dictated by our goals and previously described, story comprehension was
measured only in the post-intervention phase and only with the two groups (ALD and
TD) exposed to the e-book intervention. The findings indicated moderate
comprehension (39%) among ALD children and slightly better comprehension (50%)
among TD children.
A MANOVA conducted on the ALD and the TD groups' story comprehension
results revealed significant differences between the two groups (F(1.68)=, p<.001,
ηp2=22.). As expected, the TD children showed higher comprehension scores
(M=; SD=3.08) than did the ALD children (M=17.93; SD=4.99).
The purpose of the current study was to investigate the effectiveness of e-book
activity for vocabulary acquisition and story comprehension among kindergarteners at
risk for LD as opposed to typically developing children. The findings showed that the
children at risk for LD as well as the typically developing children who participated in
the educational e-book intervention exhibited higher levels of improvement in
vocabulary than did the control group. Story comprehension, however, was greater
among typically developing children than among children at risk for LD following the
e-book sessions.
The findings thus show that e-book activity can be an effective tool for
promoting vocabulary acquisition among ALD children as well as among TD
children. Our findings therefore support other studies reporting the e-book's
effectiveness for vocabulary improvement among typically developing children (see
E-book, Emergent literacy and kindergarteners at risk for LD
for example Lewin, 2000; Shamir, 2009; Shamir & Korat, 2007) as well as other
children at risk (Korat & Shamir, 2007; Littleton et al., 2006; Verhallen et al., 2006)
and children with physical disabilities (Segers et al., 2006).
Importantly, the improvement in vocabulary found among ALD preschoolers
indicates that although these children may be disadvantaged in vocabulary (Bryant,
Goodwin, Bryant & Higgins, 2003; Swanson et al., 2003) when compared to TD
children, they are clearly able to make good progress in developing this skill with the
help of short (six sessions) but motivating activities such as working with the
educational e-book used here (Shamir, 2009; Shamir & Korat, 2007). We associate
these positive findings especially with activation of the read with dictionary mode,
which not only presented multimedia explanations of the selected words, it also
allowed the children to further activate the function at their own initiative.
The literature implies that there is no best way to teach vocabulary; the most
appropriate approach involves exposure to various techniques that increase learners'
acquaintance with unknown words (Bryant et al., 2003). Traditional word-learning
strategies have focused on dictionary use, an activity that requires multiple skills such
as utilization of guidewords and decoding, done in relative isolation from texts.
Because of its complexity, instruction limited to dictionary use may not benefit
struggling students (Nagy & Stahl, 2000). In contrast, the integration of dictionary use
within overall e-book activity may compensate for the mentioned difficulties,
especially for ALD children.
The e-book's effectiveness may also lie in the multiple representations (text,
voices, pictures, and animations) it offers of related content (Eshet-Alkalai, 2004).
Such a combination creates the more-active learning situation that students with LD
apparently require to remain focused on the task at hand (Bulgren & Carta, 1993) and
E-book, Emergent literacy and kindergarteners at risk for LD
avoids attention lapses, otherwise known as "zoning out" (see Schooler, Reichle, &
Halpern, 2005). The same interactivity, especially if found in the dictionary mode,
may thus motivate ALD children to pay greater attention to vocabulary acquisition.
These outcomes can be explained by Neuman's (2009) synergy theory together
with Mayer's (2003) cognitive theory of multimedia learning, both of which reflect
the impact of the contemporary child's media-saturated environment. Synergy theory
posits that exposure to a coordinated array of media e.g., computers and radio as
well as printed materials is especially helpful for improving reading improvement
among young children, but particularly children at risk for reading disabilities. The
cognitive theory of multimedia learning, which focuses on the operation of media-
related symbolic systems, lends support to this conclusion.
Yet, the current study also indicates that the e-book did little to promote story
comprehension for ALD children although it did provide some support to TD
children, shown in the less than 50% success rate achieved by both groups regarding
their understanding of the story's main ideas.
This finding can be understood in relation to previous findings obtained with
typically developing children. De Jong and Bus (2002), for example, found that
kindergarteners' story comprehension was less-well supported by e-book activity than
by adult reading of the same story in its printed format (De Jong and Bus, 2004). They
suggested that the children participating in their study were too readily distracted from
the reading task once exposed to iconic and pictorial activations (De Jong & Bus,
2002, p. 154). This explanation may be especially relevant for children at risk for LD,
who tend to exhibit shorter attention spans.
We should add that story comprehension is more cognitively demanding than
vocabulary acquisition. We suggest that reading aloud from a printed book may allow
E-book, Emergent literacy and kindergarteners at risk for LD
adults to place greater stress on the story's narrative elements, a process potentially
supporting comprehension. Even well-planned e-books may still lack this type of
attention-promoting feature. We therefore propose that teaching aimed at story
comprehension actively coordinate e-book reading with adult accompaniment. This
suggestion should be further investigated among all types of children, with the
findings subsequently compared.
An additional explanation may come from the nature of story comprehension,
which requires the cognitive skills of association and generalization (Stahl, 1986) in
addition to knowledge of vocabulary. It is possible that deficiencies in language
production, which often characterize beginning readers but especially children with
LD, influenced the results. Korat and Shamir (2007) have reported that young
children find it difficult to answer questions about plot. Based on these findings, the
current study used the story retelling method, a tool found to be more reliable for
assessing comprehension (De Jong & Bus, 2003; Shamir et al., 2008). Future research
should aim at clarifying these issues.
To conclude, good levels of language and literacy skills are required for full
citizenship in today's modern, technology-oriented society. Early oral language and
emergent literacy development, prior to formal schooling, is therefore essential if
people are to achieve the requisite level of participation in society (Fuchs, 2006;
Margalit, 2000). What this study has shown is that e-books provide a promising tool
for narrowing gaps in verbal ability between children at risk of LD and typically
developing children at the targeted age level. From the perspective of pedagogy, the
research has shown that the educational e-book, as designed, may be more appropriate
for inculcating tasks based on repetitive learning, such as vocabulary acquisition. It
can thereby support more complex processes such as story comprehension, which
E-book, Emergent literacy and kindergarteners at risk for LD
relies on a complex of skills, including vocabulary acquisition. This function provides
a challenge to the still-developing technology. Research is needed to explore this
difference from processual as well as cognitive perspectives.
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Table 1
Means and Standard Deviations: Pre- and Post-Intervention Vocabularya Task Scores
of Kindergarteners by all Four Groups (N = 110)
Notes: a Range of scores: 010 on all tasks.
... 2. Studies investigating children at risk for learning difficulties (e.g., Shamir et al., 2012), children with learning problems, such as struggling readers and/or special needs (e.g., Shamir et al., 2011), • Simulates a print book (e.g., pages that 'turn'); ...
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Background The array of availability of diverse digital reading applications, the mixed results emerging from small-scale experimental studies, as well as the long-standing tradition and range of known positive developmental outcomes gained from adult-child storybook reading warrant an investigation into electronic storybooks (e-books) by performing a meta-analysis, which includes recent studies. Objectives The overall purpose of this meta-analysis is to examine the impact of e-book reading on language and literacy development of young children when compared with traditional reading of print books with or without adult scaffolding in a structured and controlled environment. Methods This meta-analysis includes experimental studies published between 2008 and 2021 with a target population of 3–8 year-olds (n = 2.317). Results and conclusions Analyses indicated a small positive effect for e-books when compared with print books on language and literacy development [g = 0.25; 95% CI = (0.09, 0.42)]. A moderate positive effect was found for vocabulary learning, [g = 0.40; 95% CI = (0.10, 0.69)], especially in relation to expressive vocabulary [g = 0.54; 95% CI = (0.08, 1.00)]. In addition, we found a significant positive correlation between multimedia e-books and the development of code-related skills. However, no significant differences were found between e-book and print book reading in relation to story comprehension. Implications Findings showed that digital features combined with adult scaffolding produced significant positive effects when compared with traditional print book reading with adult support. The findings have practical ramifications, since they can help researchers and educators identify which digital features have the greatest influence on improving children's language and literacy skills when engaging with e-books. Lay Description What is already known about this topic • Print book reading along with adult scaffolding has been proven to promote young children's language and literacy development. • Electronic storybooks (e-books) aimed at young children are equipped with several multimedia (such as animation, music and sound effects) and interactive features (such as games, hotspots, and the availability of a dictionary function) which may resemble adult scaffolding. • In accordance with past experimental studies, e-books and specifically the number of features included or the frequency they appear on an e-book may have detrimental effects on learning. • While many experimental studies investigated and compared the educational value of e-books against print books in terms of language and literacy development, overall findings are inconsistent and conclusions vary. Thus, a meta-analysis was performed, given that this educational medium will continue to expand in its use and will continue to make its way into the early year's classroom. What this paper adds • A set of 29 studies published between 2008 and 2021 including 44 comparisons were included in this meta-analysis. We limited our search to studies that used e-books with children between the ages of 3 and 8 years with and without adult scaffolding. • Within the included experimental studies in the meta-analysis, the overall results of this study indicated a small positive overall effect favouring the e-book condition, however effect sizes vary across studies. • E-books were found to be beneficial for vocabulary learning, for both expressive and receptive vocabulary. In addition, we found a significant positive correlation between multimedia e-books and the development of code-related skills. However, no significant differences were found between e-book and print book reading in relation to story comprehension. • Findings showed that digital features combined with adult scaffolding produced significant positive effects when compared with traditional print book reading with adult support. Implication for practice and/or policy • Findings in this meta-analysis are pertinent to parents, educators, legislators and software developers who are making software decisions that will affect early childhood students' education and development. • Our meta-analysis highlights the fact that when children are using an e-book without adult scaffolding their learning and development depends on the variety of features embedded in e-books which, more often than not, are contrasting one another. Each feature, depending on the frequency and timing included in an e-book, may harm or support children's learning. Looking closely at the studies included in this meta-analysis, the studies that offered multiple interactive and multimedia support features did not benefit children as well as the print storybook condition with adult support. Most commercially available e-books do not include features that resemble extraneous support (e.g., adult scaffolding) and as a result, e-books may not be able to replace adult scaffolding. In order to reduce cognitive load designers should take into consideration Mayer's multimedia principles. • The evidence from this study suggests that activities such as storybook reading accompanied with adult-child dialogic interactions offer a unique experience and play an important role in language and literacy development—regardless of book type.
... Whereas research has shown the e-book's efficiency in promoting emergent literacy among young children with typical development (de Jong & Bus, 2003;korat, Shamir, & Arbiv, 2011;Shamir & korat, 2007;Shamir et al., 2008) prior to their exposure to formal learning, similar research regarding young children with special needs has only just begun (Zucker et al., 2009). One such study has demonstrated how an educational e-book can contribute to vocabulary acquisition and phonological awareness (Shamir, korat, & Shlafer, 2011). ...
The increasing range and number of electronic books (e-books) available in the children's book market has motivated educators and researchers to investigate how well these platforms can contribute to advancing emergent literacy. Such research has nonetheless been conducted on a much smaller scale in the area of self-regulated learning (SRL) with e-books targeted at young children at risk for learning disabilities. The article discusses recent research conducted with kindergartners 4.5 to 7.0 years old. In the research reported, the 78 participants were randomly divided into three groups of equal size: experimental (educational e-book with meta-cognitive guidance), experimental (educational e-book without metacognitive guidance), and control (the regular kindergarten program). The findings indicated that the metacognitive guidance embedded in the educational e-book supported phonological awareness (rhyming) but not vocabulary acquisition.
... Overall positive outcomes on students' literacy achievement were found in most studies concerning the efficacy of e-books on average readers (e.g., Bus et al., 1995;De Jong & Bus, 2004;Fletcher & Reese, 2005;Korat, 2009;Korat & Shamir, 2008;Mol & Bus, 2011). In the area of vocabulary, findings have demonstrated that e-books are effective in improving the vocabulary of young children from prekindergarteners to elementary students (De Jong & Bus, 2004;Korat, 2009Korat, , 2010Smeets & Bus, 2012, especially when animated video features of e-books are congruent with the story (Bus, Takacs, & Kegel, 2015;Labbo & Kuhn, 2000;Okolo & Hayes, 1996) or when a built-in dictionary provides additional word explanation during the e-book reading (Korat, 2009(Korat, , 2010Korat & Shamir, 2008;Shamir, Korat, & Shlafer, 2011;Smeets & Bus, 2012. ...
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Children from economically disadvantaged families have few opportunities to engage in shared storybook reading activities, and thus are disadvantaged in the area of vocabulary development. In today’s classroom, many children’s e-books provide audio narration support to facilitate comprehension for children with no adult support. Yet, in this digital age, we still know little about how to effectively use e-books to support these children. To rectify this gap, this study investigates the effects of e-book reading with audio narration and some recorded word explanation on the novel vocabulary learning of first grade students from low-achieving elementary schools (mean age = 6.5, SD = 0.50). Employing a within-subject design, students read two e-books and their performances on seven explained words were compared to the seven unexplained control words. As a whole, results indicated that recorded word explanation resulted in greater word learning than when word explanation was not provided. Additionally, e-book reading lead to incidental word learning, and three subgroups of readers showed different patterns of word learning across the e-book with and without the recorded word explanation and the control conditions. Findings suggest that children from low-income families can increase vocabulary from reading an e-book when a short recorded word explanation precedes the e-book reading activity.
Language abilities in the early years are a strong predictor of children’s success in school. However, a considerable number of children enter school with poor language skills. Therefore, one of the most important but also challenging mandates of early childhood education and care [ECEC] is to promote these skills before school enrolment. Meta-analytic evidence suggests that shared book reading is a valuable tool to narrow this gap in the early years. In the digital age, e-books might offer new opportunities to foster language development in ECEC. This meta-analysis investigates the effectiveness of e-book interventions in comparison to regular childcare and to shared print book reading in classrooms. The systematic search, examining studies from 2000 to 2018, was carried out by two independent reviewers. A random-effect model was used to aggregate findings. Altogether, 17 studies with 30 different e-book treatments were included. Children benefited significantly more from the e-book interventions compared to regular child-care (g = 0.85). Activities with e-books were also ahead of print storybook reading in ECEC (g = 0.45). The effectiveness was mainly moderated by story repetition, number of sessions, and embeddedness in the classroom. E-books were primarily researcher-developed and included congruent functions to foster language development. Implications for practice, research and app development are discussed.
In recent years, the digital picture book has been an increasingly important reading and writing medium for children. Research on the effects of digital picture books on learning has produced mixed results. As a potential tool, some researchers found that such books could foster and scaffold for developing emergent literacy in the early childhood education. However, some still have the skeptical attitude toward integrating the technology in picture books. This survey reviews techniques and emotional design that have been applied in picture books. We also compared and discussed different types of picture books.
Previous studies have presented discrepant findings of e-stories’ contribution to children’s narrative comprehension, which can be attributed to not only the variation of multimedia features among studies but also to learner and text features. The main goal of the present study was to expand understanding of the effect of e-stories on children’s narrative skills and reading attitudes for poor and good story comprehenders. A quasi-experimental factorial design was employed to explore the effect of book type and group level on children’s narrative skills and reading attitudes. The participating children were pre-readers. The printed version of The Red Winged Owl was read aloud to small groups of 4–5 children. Participants included 41 good and 40 poor comprehenders (age range 59–68 months) who were identified based on narrative comprehension scores. The experimental group was exposed to four e-stories on an iPad, while the control group listened to readings of the printed versions of the same storybooks. Data were collected by administering pre- and post-tests and the preschool reading attitudes scale and by asking narrative comprehension questions. Children’s retellings were audio-recorded. The findings revealed that (a) the poor and good comprehender groups had higher narrative comprehension in the short text e-story condition, (b) there was a significant interaction effect for the narrative comprehension of poor and good comprehenders in longer texts and (c) children’s post-reading attitude scores did not differ by group level.
Zusammenfassung. Theoretischer Hintergrund: Die (schrift–)‌sprachlichen Fähigkeiten von Kindern gelten als Schlüssel für den individuellen Bildungserfolg, und ihre Förderung ist ein zentraler Auftrag von Kindertageseinrichtungen. Fragestellung: Die Metaanalyse untersucht die Wirksamkeit von E-Books mit Vorlesefunktion, Texttracking und animierten Bildern zur simultanen Förderung von Wortschatzerwerb, phonologischer Bewusstheit und frühem Wortlesen in Kindertagesstätten (Kitas). Methode: Die Daten von 11 E-Book-Interventionen wurden mittels random-effect Modellen aggregiert. Ergebnisse: Es fand sich ein großer Effekt auf den Wortschatz, ein kleiner für Aspekte der phonologischen Bewusstheit und keiner für das frühe Wortlesen im Vergleich zum Kita-Alltag. Mit einer Wörterbuchfunktion und mit mehreren Fördereinheiten erhöhte sich der Wortschatzeffekt. Diskussion und Schlussfolgerung: Die Befunde bieten Ansätze für die E-Book-Entwicklung und ihre Nutzung in Kitas, beziehen sich jedoch auf nichtkommerzielle Applikationen.
Previous research has shown that young children can learn from educational television programmes, videos or other technological media. However, the blending of any of these with traditional printed based text appears to be omitted. Repeated viewing is an important factor in children's ability to comprehend the content or plot. The present study used spoken texts coupled with moving images requiring repeated viewing. It is original and distinctive. The theoretical framework was Mayer's multimedia learning theory combined with Vygotsky's learning theory. The first study was a pilot study to explore whether the intervention was implementable in ordinary classrooms. The second study explored whether curricular embedding of the video was important. The third study explored the effect of “dosage”, i.e. whether a longer/more intense intervention had a proportionately greater effect on outcomes. Both quantitative outcomes (receptive vocabulary, letter sound knowledge, and early word recognition) and qualitative outcomes (comprehension of video content, teacher-child dialogue and drawings) were obtained. An experimental design was used with 4-5-year-old children in nursery and primary schools for the first three phases. Six links to video clips exploring non-fiction science content were provided to teachers in the first three studies. About half of each class was selected randomly for pre-post assessments (the British Picture Vocabulary Scale (BPVSIII) and the York Assessment of Reading for Comprehension (YARC) Early Reading). Different implementation fidelity measures were used - observations, teacher self-reports, attendance logs and post-programme interviews. All data gathered was triangulated. Quantitative data showed there was no significant pre-post differences in children's receptive vocabulary, letter sound knowledge, and early word recognition. A Case Study followed to explore how the teachers used the spoken texts coupled with moving images to mediate the children’s learning, how children responded to the teacher's effort to support them, and what other factors were operating in the situation to promote children's comprehension on video content, language development and literacy skills. Five links to non-fiction video clips were provided. The qualitative data from the Case Study revealed that the use of spoken texts coupled with moving images can promote and support children's literacy skills, particularly in teacher-child dialogic talk, retelling stories and making meaning in drawing. The child-interview evidenced that the use of spoken texts coupled with moving images supported children to remember, to comprehend, to evaluate, and to analyse. The teacher interview showed there were deeper and more meaningful ways to support children's comprehension of video content and connect this to language and literacy. Implications for practitioners and researchers were explored.
The purpose of the current chapter is threefold. First, to describe the rationale underlying the use of e-books in literacy development among children at risk for Learning Disabilities (ALD). Several studies demonstrating the e-book’s potential for promoting literacy among this population are also reviewed. The second and third parts of the chapter refer to two recent studies indicating that educational e-books designed specifically for young ALD children can enhance their Vocabulary and Story comprehension. The first study focuses on activity with two modes of educational e-books (with and without embedded metacognitive guidance) in the area of Story comprehension. The second investigates the effect of an intervention program, based on the metacognitive approach, aimed at promoting self-regulated leaning with e-books on Vocabulary and Story comprehension. In the concluding part of the chapter, we discuss the implications of current evidence regarding the e-book’s use for creating inclusive learning environments.
The Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children—Second Edition (KABC-II, Kaufman & Kaufman, 2004) measures the cognitive abilities and mental processing of children and adolescents between the ages of 3 years 0 months and 18 years 11 months. Administered individually, this clinical instrument consists of 16 subtests (plus a Delayed Recall scale) and provides examiners with a Nonverbal scale composed of subtests that can be administered in pantomime and responded to motorically. The Nonverbal Scale is especially useful for children who are hearing impaired or have limited English proficiency (Kaufman, Kaufman, Kaufman-Singer, & Kaufman, 2005).
The current review is a quantitative meta-analysis of the available empirical evidence related to parent-preschooler reading and several outcome measures. In selecting the studies to be included in this meta-analysis, we focused on studies examining the frequency of book reading to preschoolers. The results support the hypothesis that parent-preschooler reading is related to outcome measures such as language growth, emergent literacy, and reading achievement. The overall effect size of d = .59 indicates that book reading explains about 8% of the variance in the outcome measures. The results support the hypothesis that book reading, in particular, affects acquisition of the written language register. The effect of parent-preschooler reading is not dependent on the socioeconomic status of the families or on several methodological differences between the studies. However, the effect seems to become smaller as soon as children become conventional readers and are able to read on their own.
This paper addresses early identification, services, supports, and intervention for young children, birth through 4 years, who demonstrate delays in development that may place them at risk for later identification as having a learning disability (LD). Such delays include atypical patterns of development in cognition, communication, emergent literacy, motor and sensory abilities, and/or social-emotional adjustment that may adversely affect later educational performance. Development in each of these domains may be related to individual variations in rates and patterns of maturation, environmental factors such as language exposure, and quality of learning opportunities. Although the focus of this paper is on developmental rather than academic expectations, it is recognized that adequate development across multiple domains is essential for subsequent school success. It also is important to recognize that when children are exposed to high quality learning opportunities prior to kindergarten, they are less likely to experience school failure and be misidentified as having LD in the early grades. LD has been defined by the National joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD) as a heterogeneous group of disorders of presumed neurological origin manifested differently and to varying degrees during the life span of an individual. These disorders are developmental in nature, occur prior to kindergarten, and continue into adult life. Various manifestations of LD may be seen at different ages and as a result of varying learning demands (NJCLD, 1985/2001a, 1990/2001c). Early indicators that a child may have LD include delays in speech and language development, motor coordination, perception, reasoning, social interaction, prerequisites to academic achievement and other areas relevant to meeting educational goals. These indicators may occur concomitantly with problems in self-regulation, attention, or social interaction (Lowenthal, 1998; McCardle, Scarborough, & Catts, 2001). In effective programs for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, professionals (1) examine risk and protective factors, (2) conduct systematic observations of individual children, (3) assess developmental status, (4) create rich and varied learning opportunites, (5) plan and deliver services and supports, and (6) provide intervention based on assessment data. These programs are culturally and developmentally appropriate, linguistically sensitive, and based on scientific evidence. This paper describes how such programs can be established and implemented, emphasizes the importance of family and caregiver involvement and responsibilities, discusses issues in professional preparation and development, and articulates critical research needs.