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Young Adult literature is a growing genre. This study examined print exposure within Adult fiction, and Children’s and Young Adult fiction in 90 adolescents (Mage = 16.3). Results showed that scores on an Author Recognition Test (ART) containing the names of Children’s and Young Adult fiction authors were positively correlated with adolescents’ general reading and spelling abilities and single-word reading speed. The same pattern was either weaker, or absent, with scores on an ART containing Adult authors names. Furthermore, recognizing Children’s and Young Adult authors predicted performance on the adolescents’ standardized reading and spelling measures, above and beyond recognizing adult authors. Scores on the ART containing Children’s and Young Adult authors also predicted reading speed, even after controlling for general reading and spelling abilities. These findings add to three decades of inquiry into the cognitive correlates of print exposure.
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Reading and Writing
An Interdisciplinary Journal
ISSN 0922-4777
Read Writ
DOI 10.1007/s11145-019-09987-y
Time to read Young Adult fiction: print
exposure and linguistic correlates in
adolescents
Sandra Martin-Chang, Stephanie Kozak
& Maya Rossi
1 23
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Reading and Writing
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-019-09987-y
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Time toread Young Adult ction: print exposure
andlinguistic correlates inadolescents
SandraMartin‑Chang1 · StephanieKozak1· MayaRossi1
© Springer Nature B.V. 2019
Abstract
Young Adult literature is a growing genre. This study examined print exposure
within Adult fiction, and Children’s and Young Adult fiction in 90 adolescents
(Mage = 16.3). Results showed that scores on an Author Recognition Test (ART) con-
taining the names of Children’s and Young Adult fiction authors were positively cor-
related with adolescents’ general reading and spelling abilities and single-word read-
ing speed. The same pattern was either weaker, or absent, with scores on an ART
containing Adult authors names. Furthermore, recognizing Children’s and Young
Adult authors predicted performance on the adolescents’ standardized reading and
spelling measures, above and beyond recognizing adult authors. Scores on the ART
containing Children’s and Young Adult authors also predicted reading speed, even
after controlling for general reading and spelling abilities. These findings add to
three decades of inquiry into the cognitive correlates of print exposure.
Keywords Adolescents· Print exposure· Reading skill· Reading speed· Spelling
Introduction
Literacy is not a dichotomous variable. Rather, a continuum exists with individuals
who are highly proficient on one extreme, and those who are functionally illiterate on
the other. A similar continuum has been noted in leisure reading. Some individuals
are self-proclaimed bibliophiles, while others openly disparage reading for pleasure.
Nowhere is this polarization more apparent than within the teenage population (Mol
& Jolles, 2014). Research has shown that where one falls on the ‘leisure reading spec-
trum’ predicts several other skills (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1998; Martin-Chang
& Gould, 2008). For example, print exposure aligns with general knowledge, read-
ing comprehension, vocabulary size, and spelling ability (Cunningham & Stanovich,
* Sandra Martin-Chang
s.martin-chang@concordia.ca
1 Department ofEducation (LB-501-3), Concordia University, 1455 boul. De Maisonneuve West,
Montreal, QCH3G1M8, Canada
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S.Martin-Chang et al.
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1991, 1997; Sparks, Patton, & Murdoch, 2014). Somewhat unexpectedly, reading fic-
tion is more strongly associated with social functioning and vocabulary than reading
non-fiction (Mar, Oately, & Peterson, 2009; Mar & Rain, 2015). Within the cognitive
domain, positive correlations between reading volume and reading speed have been
noted in children (Anderson, Wilson, & Fielding, 1988; Cipielewski & Stanovich,
1992) and adults (Martin-Chang & Gould, 2008); yet, fewer observations have
included adolescents. Likewise, reading volume and reading speed have not yet been
studied at word level. Therefore, the goals of the present investigation were twofold.
First, we examined links between reading volume and general reading and spelling
skills in adolescents by including a subset of Children’s and Young Adult authors
within the traditional Author Recognition Test (ART; Stanovich & West, 1989). Sec-
ond, we examined the association between reading volume and reading speed using
more fine-grained measurements than have been used previously.
Reading speed
In reading, fluency is characterized by decoding that is quick, accurate, and pro-
sodically correct (Wolf & Katzir-Cohen, 2001). Although single word reading speed
comprises only two of the three main components of fluency (accuracy and speed),
it remains critical; when word recognition is automatic, very few cognitive resources
are required for bottom-up processing, which allows readers to direct the bulk of their
attention towards top-down, meaning-based processes (Perfetti & Lesgold, 1979). In
contrast, when single word reading speed is effortful, the reader’s focus is necessarily
directed towards decoding. This makes it more difficult for the reader to understand,
evaluate, and appreciate the text. In short, reading efficiency at the single word level
seems critical for all higher order reading processes, including reading comprehen-
sion (Torgesen & Hudson, 2006) and, by extension, reading enjoyment.
Reading ability and choosing to read are said to interact in a reciprocally causal
manner: when reading feels easy in the early grades, individuals are inclined to
spend more time reading, and when children continue to read as they get older, read-
ing comprehension becomes easier still (Mol & Bus, 2011; Torppa et al., 2019).
Anderson etal. (1988) tested this notion with 155 elementary school children. They
asked students to record their daily activities outside of school. Perhaps not surpris-
ingly, they found that reading for pleasure was the best predictor of reading growth
over a three-year time span. Of specific interest here, they also found that reading
speed accounted for 8.8% of unique variance in the number of minutes fifth graders
reported reading outside of school.
Cipielewski and Stanovich (1992) conducted a similar study with 63 fourth and
fifth grade students. Rather than using reading diaries, they measured reading vol-
ume with the ART (Stanovich & West, 1989). This checklist contained the names of
popular children’s authors, listed among foils. Scores on the ART acted as a proxy
of how much children read. In line with the notion that fluency and print expo-
sure are linked, Cipielewski and Stanovich observed a moderate positive correla-
tion between how fast children read passages and how many children’s authors they
could recognize.
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Time toread Young Adult fiction: print exposure andlinguistic…
This pattern was replicated with 171 undergraduate students (Martin-Chang &
Gould, 2008). Martin-Chang and Gould noted that the classic ART could potentially
be influenced by both personal reading experience and general memory ability. The
authors investigated whether comprehension, vocabulary, and reading speed were
more closely tied to personal reading experience or to knowledge about authors
garnered through sources other than reading (e.g., remembering current events or
remembering the preferred authors of family and friends). The results showed that,
although both types of print exposure were related to vocabulary and comprehen-
sion, in each case, the correlations with personal reading experience were signifi-
cantly stronger than those associated with general memory for authors. Furthermore,
personal reading experience was the only variable associated with reading fluency,
accounting for 17% of unique variance in reading speed. Thus, it appears that read-
ing experience and passage reading fluency share unique patterns of associations not
observed with other cognitive variables.
Choi, Lowder, Ferreira, and Henderson (2015) took a slightly different approach
for measuring reading speed and print exposure. They asked 70 undergraduate par-
ticipants to read paragraphs of connected text while using a gaze-contingent mov-
ing-window technique that systematically varied how much text the participants
could view at one time. They found that performance on the ART was associated
with shorter fixation durations, larger saccadic movements, and more words read per
minute. In other words, those who showed more experience with print, as measure
by the ART, seemed to scan texts in larger windows resulting in reading skills that
were more efficient.
Mano and Guerin (2018) asked 52 undergraduate students to read as many sen-
tences as possible within a 3-min time span and to determine if the sentences were
true or false. The results showed that students’ ART scores were positively corre-
lated with the number of sentences they could read, as well as the number of non-
words and real words they could read within a 1-min period. Interestingly, when the
authors employed mediation analyses, they noted both the significant direct effect of
print exposure on silent reading fluency, and an indirect effect of print exposure on
silent reading fluency via real word reading. Mano and Guerin elected to have the
fluency task completed silently, as they argued that silent reading offered a natural-
istic setting under which to study reading speed. The addition of a manual response
to check reading comprehension ensured that the sentences were being read and
understood somewhat accurately, however verifying the accuracy of the statements
required additional cognitive resources that are not typically necessary for fluent
reading.
The literature reviewed thus far has either investigated young participants in
elementary schools, or adults in universities. The adolescent population has been
comparatively understudied, both in regard to print exposure as a whole and reading
speed specifically. One notable exception comes from the work done by McGeown,
Duncan, Griffiths, and Stothard (2014) who studied the reading habits of 312 older
children and adolescents. They asked participants to report how long they read
specific forms of texts over the course of a weekend. Interestingly reading speed
was positively correlated with reading fiction; however, it was not associated with
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reading non-fiction, textbooks, or short digital texts (such as those associated with
social media).
Finally, Torppa etal. (2019) followed over 2500 Finnish students from Grade 1 to
Grade 9. In the early years (Grades 1–4), estimates of reading volume were obtained
from parents. In the senior elementary and high school years (Grades 6, 7, and 9) the
students completed their own self-report measures on how often they read books,
news and comics, magazines and digital texts. At each grade level, the authors also
collected data on reading comprehension and reading fluency. In keeping with the
literature, Torppa etal. noted that in the early grades, children who excelled in either
reading comprehension or reading fluency (or both) were more likely to have parents
who described them as avid readers. However, the predictive paths were not signifi-
cant when reversed. Stated simply, parental reports of avid reading did not predict
further skill development in Grades 1 through 4. This was not the case in the later
elementary and high school years; after accounting for the children’s own levels of
fluency, comprehension and reading volume, book reading was reciprocally associ-
ated with reading comprehension at every upper level grade measured. The authors
also noted that book reading seemed especially linked to reading comprehension,
more so than reading comics, news, magazines or on-line. Yet surprisingly, leisure
reading was not found to promote reading fluency at in any grade, in spite of the fact
that faster readers were more likely to report reading for pleasure. This finding is
somewhat difficult to interpret. Unlike reading comprehension which was directly
assessed by reading passages and answering questions, Torppa etal. measured read-
ing fluency with tasks that integrated reading speed with other skills. Specifically,
they employed a sentence verification task, a written vocabulary-word matching
task, and a whole word segmentation task. While all of these tasks were timed, none
directly measured reading speed.
Lowder and Gordon (2017) addressed some of these issues by using a repeti-
tion priming paradigm to measure reading speed. Here, 48 undergraduate partici-
pants completed the ART and then read sentences containing target words. Reading
speed of the target words was examined using eye-tracking software. As expected,
higher reading volume was associated with faster initial reading times. With regard
to repetition priming, participants with lower print exposure scores benefitted more
from seeing target words a second time, suggesting that participants who read more
for pleasure had faster baseline reading speeds, and therefore had less room for
improvement due to repetition priming.
A common thread among all of the studies reviewed above was that reading flu-
ency was most commonly measured by using connected texts that were read silently.
For example, both Anderson et al. (1988) and Martin-Chang and Gould (2008)
measured fluency by asking participants how far they progressed while reading a
passage within a specific time frame. This method does not account for reading
accuracy, nor does it guarantee that participants accurately report how much they
read. Cipielewski and Stanovich (1992) measured reading speed during a cloze task,
therefore they ensured that their participants had read the passage, but they could
not vouch for reading accuracy or be certain that reading rate was not affected by the
additional comprehension task. Similarly, McGeown etal. (2014) asked their adoles-
cent participants to read passages in order to answer comprehension questions. Once
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Time toread Young Adult fiction: print exposure andlinguistic…
again though, the silent reading task did not allow the researchers to score reading
accuracy. Finally, Mano and Guerin (2018) and Torppa etal. (2019) asked their par-
ticipants to answer a true or false question after each sentence. This sentence verifi-
cation task ensured that the participants were reading somewhat accurately, however
it required additional cognitive resources that are generally not a part of everyday
reading. Therefore, the field would be strengthened by corroborating evidence from
studies where single word reading speed and accuracy are directly assessed.
Taken together, teenagers remain an understudied population. Yet, the scholar-
ship conducted with children and adults suggests that at least some aspects of skilled
reading are improved by practice. Furthermore, some evidence suggests that higher
print volume is also associated with more efficient reading rates (Anderson etal.,
1988; Cipielewski & Stanovich, 1992; Martin-Chang & Gould, 2008; Torppa etal.,
2019). However, at present very few measures of fluency have directly assessed
reading speed.
The Author Recognition Test
The ART has been updated and adapted several times to reflect changes in the liter-
ary landscape (Acheson, Wells, & MacDonald, 2008; Kidd & Castano, 2013, 2017;
Kozak & Martin-Chang, 2019; Mar, Oatley, Hirsh, dela Paz, & Peterson, 2006;
Martin-Chang & Gould, 2008; Moore & Gordon, 2015). To illustrate, Mar and Rain
(2015) revised the ART to include 110 fiction authors, 50 nonfiction authors and 40
foils with the goal of determining whether different kinds of reading genres were
uniquely associated with verbal abilities. The authors asked 960 participants across
four studies to complete this revised ART. They reported a robust pattern of find-
ings whereby participants who read more fiction scored higher on tests of synonyms,
analogies, sentence completion, and reading comprehension compared to those who
read more non-fiction. The associations between nonfiction reading and verbal abili-
ties were either insignificant, or negative. Thus, it is reading fiction that seems to be
uniquely linked to many aspects of verbal processing.
Mar and Rain’s series of studies (2015) exemplify how creating a more nuanced
ART can be beneficial in understanding the skills associated with different types of
print exposure. The current study built on this premise by including both authors
of Adult and Young Adult fiction within the ART. In doing so, we sought to under-
stand whether adolescents’ reading habits, as measured by a preference for Adult or
Young Adult authors, would show different associations with literacy skills.
In recent educational discussions, the relative merits and weaknesses of Young
Adult literature have been a controversial topic. Within contemporary fiction, some
educators have spoken out strongly against using books from the Young Adult genre.
One well-known educational consultant stated that he had: “some serious ques-
tions about the cultural value and validity of the young adult fiction agents are ped-
dling.” He went on to ask, “where are those vital books for teenagers that introduce
them to the real, adult world?” (Nutt, 2016, para. 8). In line with this view, Kidd
and Castano (2013) observed that literary fiction showed stronger associations with
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Theory-of-Mind than genre fiction, suggesting that readers would benefit more from
“high-brow” novels than popular genre fiction, such as romance novels or thrillers.
Yet in stark contrast, others have argued in favor of using high interest literature
that is relevant to older children and young adults because it creates better conditions
to cultivate reading skills (Kim etal., 2016; Ivey & Johnston, 2013). For example,
Glenn, Ginsberg, and King-Watkins (2018) compared the positive experience of five
adolescents enrolled in a Young Adult Literature Class to the negative experiences
they recounted from traditional English classes. The Young Adult Literature Class
was created around the premise that student choice in both reading materials and
assignments is critical to student growth. This was supported by a print rich class-
room where students were able to choose their reading materials from a large variety
of books. Within this class, students were able to embrace their identities as readers
and had more positive experiences than students in the traditional English classes.
The work by Jensen, Christy, Krakow, John, and Martins (2016) shows the impor-
tance of high-interest literature when working with a younger population. They
interviewed preteens about their book preferences and found that books contain-
ing child protagonists, and futuristic settings, as well as plots that included danger,
monsters, and action were listed most frequently. Of specific interest, participants
who were more transported by the stories were also likely to have advanced reading
skills, and higher overall academic performances.
Here, we examined whether adolescents’ print exposure scores would show posi-
tive associations with reading accuracy, spelling skill, and single word reading rate.
We also asked if differential associations would be observed with regards to par-
ticipants’ ability to recognize adult or young adult authors. Specifically, as the ART
generally consists of authors of adult fiction, we were interested in whether familiar-
ity with authors for children and young adults would result in more sensitive predic-
tors of linguistic skills in adolescents.
Method
Participants
Ethical approval was obtained at the university and school levels. Participants were
then recruited from a North American high school that drew equally from two eco-
nomically diverse neighborhoods: one area was an affluent suburb of a large city;
the other area was less affluent and further from the city center. During the year the
study was conducted, 815 students were enrolled in the entire school. Invitations to
participate in the study were sent home with the students of four classrooms (Grade
9, Grade 10 and two Grade 11 classes). Of the 120 students who were invited to
participate in the study, 93 teenagers provided parental consent. Before beginning,
written assent from the participants was also obtained. The majority of the partici-
pants indicated that their first language was English (88%) and ranked their English
proficiency as 3.52 on a 4-point scale, with 1 being “basic” and 4 being “excellent.
Out of the 93 original participants, three were removed from the analyses as they
indicated their level of English proficiency to be 1 “basic” or 2 “fair.” Therefore,
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Time toread Young Adult fiction: print exposure andlinguistic…
a total of 90 (67% female) participants were included in the study (Mage= 16.21,
SDage= .92). All participants were in Grades 9 (n = 20), 10 (n = 23), and 11 (n = 47;
Mgrade = 10.9, SDgrade = .81). Testing took place during the months of March and
April.
Materials
Participant information questionnaire
Students were asked to indicate their native language(s), age, date of birth, and
grade level.
Author Recognition Test
The Author Recognition Test (ART; Stanovich & West, 1989) is typically used to
approximate an individual’s reading volume over their lifetime. For this study, the
ART was adapted for a younger population by including authors who wrote for
Children and Young Adults among popular Adult Fiction authors (Kozak & Martin-
Chang, 2019). The additional authors were compiled from bestseller lists, as well as
vetted by both booksellers and teachers. The final version of the ART-CYA can be
seen in “Appendix”.
This version of the ART contained a list of 114 names in total; 68 of the names
were Contemporary Fiction authors, 23 were Children’s and Young Adult authors,
and 23 were foils. Participants were asked to mark the names they recognized as
being real authors and were cautioned that guessing could be easily detected. All of
the authors were listed alphabetically by first name, and the participants were not
alerted that some of the authors wrote for children and young adults. Two scores
were calculated for the purposes of this study: scores on the ART using the Chil-
dren’s and Young Adult authors only (ART-CYA), and scores using Contemporary
Adult authors only (ART-A). In both cases, the equation used to score responses
was the same: (real authors identified/total real authors)−(foils identified/total foils;
Stanovich & West, 1989), where “real authors” were either Children’s and Young
Adult authors (ART-CYA), or Contemporary Adult authors (ART-A).
Standardized measures
Participants completed the Wide Reading Achievement Test- Fourth Edition
(WRAT4; Wilkinson & Robertson, 2006) to determine their word level reading
ability. The test involves reading 42 real words in isolation. Testing is discontinued
following ten errors. The WRAT4 has good internal consistency, α = .89, and t akes
approximately 5min to administer (Wilkinson & Robertson, 2006).
In order to assess general spelling abilities, participants also completed the spell-
ing subtest of the Woodcock Johnson Test of Achievement—Third Edition (WJ-III;
Woodcock, McGrew, & Mathers, 2001). Participants used paper and pencil to write
up to 59 words dictated by the experimenter. The words increased in difficulty and
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scoring was discontinued following six consecutive errors. The WJ-III has good
internal consistency, α = .90, and takes approximately 5min to administer (Schrank,
McGrew, & Woodcock, 2001).
Experimental measures
A list of words was used for the single word experimental reading task. From the list
of 30 words, almost half were adapted from previous studies on single word read-
ing and spelling (Ouellette, Martin-Chang, & Rossi, 2017); the remainder were sug-
gested by high school teachers as words that students would understand verbally.
Procedure
Participants completed the study across two sessions. During the first session, stu-
dents worked individually with the researcher. To assess their single word reading
speed, they were asked to read the experimental words that appeared individually on
a 13 computer screen. The words were written in 36-point font to mimic flash cards.
Participants were asked to read the words aloud as quickly and accurately as possi-
ble. Superlab Pro 5.0 software (Cedrus Corporation, 2014) was used to calculate
participants’ reading speed for each individual word. The target words appeared on
the screen individually until the full list of 30 words was read. The list of words was
read again in random order three more times; thus, each word was read four times in
total (30 words per list × 4 trials = 120 words). When the microphone was triggered
by the participants’ voice, the word on the screen disappeared and was replaced by a
fixation point (*). The fixation point was on the screen for 2s before the next word
appeared. The experimenter coded accuracy of reading responses. Reading mistakes
and prolonged hesitations were both coded as errors and their reading times were
removed from the analyses. Following the experimental reading task, participants
completed the WRAT4 reading measure to assess their general reading ability. In
total, Session 1 took approximately 10min.
During Session 2, participants completed the participant information question-
naire, the combined ART (containing both Adult and Children and Young Adults
authors, as well as foil names), and the WJ-III spelling measure. The activities dur-
ing Session 2 were completed with the whole class at the same time. Students were
seated as if they were taking a test; they remained at their individual desks, out of
sight of other students’ responses.
Results
Table 1 shows the means and standard deviations for all measures. As seen in
Table 1, participants were able to identify more Children’s and Young Adults’
authors than Adult authors; a t test showed this difference was significant,
t(89) = 12.42, p < .001. Unsurprisingly, this finding suggests that the teenage popula-
tion was able to recognize more authors who published books targeted at their age
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Time toread Young Adult fiction: print exposure andlinguistic…
level. Mean scores on the standardized measures of reading (WRAT4) and spelling
(WJ-III) indicate that the participants were scoring within one standard deviation
of the norm on these measures; on average, they were reading and spelling at, or
slightly above grade-level norms.
Analyses by grade level were performed for average reading times and spelling
accuracy scores. Three separate one-way ANOVAs revealed no statistically signifi-
cant differences in word-reading times (F (2, 87) = .242, p = .796), reading accuracy
(F (2,87) = 2.658, p = .076), or spelling accuracy (F (2, 87) = .327, p = .722) when
analyzed between grades. Therefore, all 90 participants were included in the follow-
ing analyses.
In order to explore the relationships between print exposure, reading and spelling
ability, and reading speed, correlations were run between all of the measures (see
Table2). First, as expected, both print exposure scores (ART-A, ART-CYA) were
significantly positively correlated with each other, indicating that participants who
are more with familiar literature aimed at one age group were also more likely to
read literature aimed at the other. Next, as expected, both standardized measures of
reading and spelling were significantly, moderately positively correlated with each
other. Lastly, reading time was significantly negatively correlated with both stand-
ardized measures, indicating that as general proficiency in spelling and reading
increase, reading time decreases.
Turning our attention to the individual word reading times, we see that word read-
ing speed was correlated to all variables except for one, namely scores on the ART
containing Adult authors. Significant negative correlations were found between
reading time and ART-CYA scores; in other words, faster reading was associated
Table 1 Descriptive statistics
N = 90
a Standardized scores
Measure M SD
ART-A .03 .05
ART-CYA .17 .12
WRAT4 Reading 108.63a11.07
WJ-III Spelling 108.93a12.67
Table 2 Correlations
N = 90
*p < .05, ***p < .001, 2-t ailed
12345
1. ART-A
2. ART-CYA .47***
3. WRAT4 reading .22* .50***
4. WJ-III spelling .26* .58*** .57***
5. Reading time −.18 −.38*** −.42*** −.50***
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with recognizing more Children’s and Young Adult authors. No such relationship
was found between scores on the ART-A and single word reading times.
It should be noted that the standardized measures of reading and spelling were
positively correlated with both ART-A and ART-CYA scores; however, the correla-
tions were stronger with the ART-CYA than with the ART-A. Using the procedure
recommended by Meng, Rosenthal, and Rubin (1992), we determined that the cor-
relations between the standardized measures and the ART-CYA scores were signifi-
cantly larger (ps < .05) than those between the standardized measures and ART-A
scores. In other words, the relationship between both standardized measures of read-
ing and spelling was stronger when the correlations were conducted with the ART-
CYA compared to the ART-A. In order to explore these relationships further we
carried out a series of hierarchical multiple regressions to clarify the role of print
exposure (ART-A and ART-CYA) in predicting general reading ability (WRAT4)
and general spelling ability (WJ-III).
In the first regression with reading ability as the dependent variable, the ART-A
explained 4.9% of variance when entered into the equation first, F(1, 88) = 4.500,
p = .037, while scores on the ART-CYA explained a further 20% of variance in the
second step, F(2, 87) = 14.415, p < .001. Alternatively, when ART-CYA was entered
first, a significant regression equation was found F(1, 88) = 29.115, p < .001) with an
R2 of .249. However, in this case, the ART-CYA was the only statistically significant
predictor, p < .001. See Table 3 for all β coefficients, the standard errors, and the
standardized betas.
We then carried out a series of regressions with general spelling ability as the
dependent variable. When ART-A was entered first, and ART-CYA second, a signif-
icant regression equation was found, F(1, 88) = 6.544, p = .012, with an R2 of .069,
and an R2 of .264 for ART-CYA. Both variables added statistically significantly to
the prediction, p < .01. Alternatively, when ART-CYA was entered first, though a
significant regression equation was found, F(1, 88) = 43.977, p < .001, with an R2
of .333, the ART-CYA was the only statistically significant predictor, p < .001. See
Table4 for all β coefficients, the standard errors, and the standardized betas.
Table 3 Results of hierarchical
linear regression analysis of
predictors of reading ability
(WRAT4)
Keeping ART-A constant. For Step 1, R2 = .049, R2 change for Step
2 = .200
Keeping ART-CYA constant. For Step 1, R2 = .249, R2 change for
Step 2 = .000, *p < .05, ***p < .001
Reading ability (WRAT4)
b SE b β
Predictor
Step 1 ART-A 53.593 25.265 .221*
Step 2 ART-CYA 48.600 10.091 .508***
Predictor
Step 1 ART-CYA 47.722 8.844 .499***
Step 2 ART-A − 4.713 25.619 − .019
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Time toread Young Adult fiction: print exposure andlinguistic…
Finally, given the interesting relationship between scores on the ART-CYA and
reading speed, a regression was performed to explore whether general reading skills
were acting as a higher order variable and driving both correlations. Standardized
reading scores were entered into the model first, followed by scores on the ART-
CYA. The β coefficients, the standard errors, and the standardized betas are pre-
sented in Table5. Results indicate that, after accounting for adolescents’ general
reading skills, their ART-CYA scores remained a statistically significant predictor
of their single word reading time. Scores on the ART-CYA contributed 3.7% unique
variance to single word reading speed after accounting for generalized reading skills,
R2 change = .037, F(2, 87) = 11.825, p < .001.
Discussion
It has long been recognized that reading volume is associated with distinct social
and cognitive benefits for children and adults (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1998;
Goldman & Manis, 2013; Mar etal., 2009). The results reported here replicate and
extend to this body of research. Our findings confirm that adolescents who recog-
nized more authors had better general reading and spelling scores. Furthermore,
the results also showed that performance on the ART-CYA, which included authors
Table 4 Results of hierarchical
linear regression analysis of
predictors of spelling ability
(WJ-III)
Keeping ART-A constant. For Step 1, R2 = .069, R2 change for Step
2 = .264
Keeping ART-CYA constant. For Step 1, R2 = .333, R2 change for
Step 2 = .000, *p < .05, ***p < .001
Spelling ability (WJ-III)
b SE b β
Predictor
Step 1 ART-A 73.143 28.592 .263*
Step 2 ART-CYA 63.858 10.877 .583***
Predictor
Step 1 ART-CYA 63.213 9.532 .577***
Step 2 ART-A − 3.469 27.614 − .012
Table 5 Results of hierarchical
linear regression analysis of
predictors of reading speed (ms)
Keeping reading abilities (WRAT4) constant. For Step 1, R2 = .177,
R2 change for Step 2 = .037; *p < .05, **p < .01
Reading speed (ms)
b SE b β
Predictor
Step 1 WRAT4 − 3.982 1.411 − .309**
Step 2 ART-CYA − 273.784 135.094 − .222*
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who wrote specifically for older children and teenagers, accounted for more unique
variance than the ART-A with regards to these same scores. Indeed, the ART-CYA,
which can be considered a proxy of reading during childhood and the teenage years,
was the only measure that correlated with single word reading time.
The findings discussed above bear a striking resemblance to those reported in
the adult literature. Namely, Martin-Chang and Gould (2008) found stronger cor-
relations between language skills and personal reading experiences compared to
correlations between language skills and recognizing the favorite authors of friends
or spouses (i.e., secondary print knowledge). They also noted that personal read-
ing experience was the only variable associated with reading speed. Although it is
speculative, it is possible that our scores on the ART-CYA and the ART-A were tap-
ping into similar constructs of personal reading experience versus secondary print
knowledge. It stands to reason that scores on the ART-CYA might have been meas-
uring more of the authors our participants had personally read, whereas the authors
on the ART-A scores might have been reflective of the author names they had seen
in their homes and perhaps even on school reading lists. For example, Devon, a stu-
dent in Grade 11 described by Glenn etal. (2018) said, “I never read for English. I
only skim. And for [Young Adult Literature Class], I actually read the books” (p.
324). On-going work is currently exploring this issue, but if this is the case, it would
behoove English teachers to select books that their students were more inclined to
read, rather than to skim or avoid altogether.
Our findings also fit with those of Spear-Swerling, Brucker, and Alfano (2010)
who found links between word reading accuracy, oral comprehension, vocabulary,
reading comprehension, and self-reported reading habits—but interestingly, only
for reading fiction. Non-fiction reading was significantly negatively correlated with
reading comprehension. Similar to the argument put forth above, it may be possi-
ble that the students in Spear-Swearling’s study read the fiction books more thor-
oughly, while merely skimming through the non-fiction books. Alternatively, the
fiction books may be less cognitively demanding, thereby allowing more cognitive
resources to be dedicated to understanding unknown words or to practicing various
comprehension strategies (McCreath, Linehan, & Mar, 2017).
Although more work needs to be done in this area, the fact remains that in our
study recognizing authors who wrote specifically for older children and teenagers
was more closely tied to adolescent’s literacy skills than recognizing adult authors.
Our findings are encouraging precisely because they suggest that adolescents can
reap benefits in accuracy, spelling, and reading speed by reading books that are
popular within their age group. This fits nicely within the body of literature show-
ing that books linked to the greatest cognitive gains do not necessarily come with the
most prestigious awards and highest acclaim (Mar etal., 2006; Mar & Rain, 2015).
Quite the opposite, in fact; in keeping with the classic logic behind including popular
authors within the ART (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1998), the work of Mar and col-
leagues has shown that reading popular genres is associated with measurable social
and cognitive gains (Mar etal., 2006; Mar & Rain, 2015). If reading genres such as
romance, mystery, and science fiction lead to a wealth of linguistic benefits (Mar &
Rain, 2015), it stands to reason that fiction aimed at children and young adults may
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Time toread Young Adult fiction: print exposure andlinguistic…
offer similar advantages. If the goal is to get teenagers to engage with books, then the
question becomes: what kinds of books can be leveraged to increase reading volume?
As determined by Jensen etal. (2016), becoming transported by fiction is associ-
ated with elevated reading skills. Jensen etal., noted that the books that appeared to
entice children the most explored themes related to danger, adventure, action, and
were written around child protagonists. In the current study, four of the five most
recognized authors wrote novels for Children and Young Adults (in order from most
to least recognized: J.K. Rowling, Stephen King [Adult fiction], Suzanne Collins,
Judy Blume, and Stephenie Meyer), and all of the top five authors featured some of
the aforementioned elements in their writing. By implication, we suggest that teach-
ers modify their reading programs to suit their students’ interests. Offering popular
book titles among the selected readings for class assignments may serve to increase
motivation (De Naeghel etal., 2014, De Naeghel, Van Keer, Vansteenkiste, Haerens,
& Aelterman, 2016; Glenn etal., 2018), and ideally spark an interest in reading that
extends beyond school (Ivey & Johnston, 2013; Kim etal., 2016).
Teachers and parents who are reluctant to encourage Young Adult literature for
fear that it is “nothing more than gossip fodder,” (Nutt, 2016, para. 4), should take
heart in the fact that reading bestselling books helps to shape children’s social devel-
opment. For example, reading Wonder increases empathy in elementary students
(Guarisco & Freeman, 2015) and reading Harry Potter is associated with reduced
prejudice towards immigrants and homosexuals in elementary and high school stu-
dents (Vezzali, Stathi, Giovannini, Capozza, & Trifiletti, 2015). Therefore, it seems
that many different kinds of books, including high fantasy, can play a hand in devel-
oping the background knowledge children and adolescents need to become critically
thinking, engaged citizens (National Endowment for the Arts, 2004).
We also observed positive correlations noted between the ART-A and the ART-
CYA; participants who were better able to recognize Children’s and Young Adult
authors were better able to recognize authors who wrote for adults. As discussed
above, it is unclear how many of the authors from the ART-A the participants had
read personally. However, it has been posited that reader identity begins early and
remains fairly stable into adulthood (Mol & Bus, 2011). Simply put, the best way
to nurture readers of adult literature might be to encourage adolescents to read the
literature they are drawn to, be it Young Adult literature or Adult fiction.
Limitations andfuture directions
In many respects, skilled reading and reading volume develop hand in hand (Cun-
ningham & Stanovich, 1991; Mol & Bus, 2011; Sparks etal., 2014). Children who
get off to a smooth start in reading may receive the foundational knowledge and
encouragement to read during their free time from a relatively early age. This argu-
ment for a reciprocal causal relationship gives rise to the very likely possibility that
third-order variables, such as the home environment, attitudes towards schooling,
and general intelligence are influencing both reading speed and print exposure.
Indeed, some authors have argued that it is skilled reading that drives electing to
read, rather than the inverse (Torppa et al., 2019; van Bergen et al., 2018). We
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S.Martin-Chang et al.
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acknowledge this limitation of the current paradigm. However, even after reading
accuracy was accounted for, print exposure explained a small, but unique amount
of variance in single word reading speed. This was a stringent control, because
being an accurate reader is likely a determining factor in both electing to read, and
in reading speed. Thus, by entering it into the regression on reading speed first, we
certainly overrepresented the amount of variance allotted to reading accuracy, and
underrepresented the amount of variance allotted to print exposure. Nevertheless,
it increases our confidence that the benefits from print exposure are reciprocal, with
print exposure both resulting from, and contributing to, reading speed.
It remains difficult to reconcile our findings with those of Torppa etal. (2019),
who found “leisure reading did not promote reading fluency at any time point…” (p.
13). These differences may have resulted from the fact that English has an opaque
orthography whereas Finnish is transparent. Or they could be due to the differences
in the way fluency was operationalized within the different paradigms; we used a
direct measure of reading speed, while Torppa et al., used sentence verification
tasks, word chain tasks, and a picture/word matching task. More work will need to
be done in this area in order to fully understand the directionality between reading
speed and leisure reading, but at present, we would agree with Torppa etal. that, at
the very least, “…faster readers, on average, read more” (p. 13).
A second limitation of the present study was that two-thirds of the sample was
comprised of females. As noted by Mol and Jolles (2014), teenage girls are more
likely to read for pleasure than teenage boys. Therefore, the patterns observed here
should be replicated with larger numbers of participants balanced for sex. In a simi-
lar vein, there were only three students who indicated that their English skills were
poor, and they were removed from the final analyses; thus, the study should be repli-
cated with students who display a wider range of English proficiency.
Given that recognizing literature aimed at older children and Young Adults was
associated with better cognitive outcomes, future investigations should explore how
teachers’ novel selections within the classroom influences student motivation to read.
This work could expand the work done by Jensen etal. (2016) and Glenn etal. (2018)
by asking teenagers why they are drawn to certain books and by exploring ways that
more current titles can be added to the curriculum. Mounting evidence suggests that
fiction can be used to simulate real life emotions, such as heartache and fear, within
the safety of one’s own home (Oatley, 2016). As such, Young Adult literature may be
affording older children and teenagers the opportunity to experience situations that are
prominent in the adolescent period of development, such as first love, loss of inno-
cence, the importance of friends, and coming of age. If this is the case, it is perhaps
not surprising that teenagers prefer to read books that explore issues directly reflecting
those they may be facing in their own lives. To be clear, we are not suggesting that pop-
ular new titles completely replace books from canon, such as Macbeth (Shakespeare,
1623) or The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald, 1925). Rather, we are suggesting that teachers
offer students a greater amount of choice in what they read (De Naeghel etal., 2014,
2016). Students could be given the option of reading Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare,
1597) or Eleanor & Park (Rowell, 2013), both of which deal with the complications
of family and love, or the choice between Lord of the Flies (Golding, 1954) or Hunger
Games (Collins, 2008), both of which revolve around the clashing values of survival
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Time toread Young Adult fiction: print exposure andlinguistic…
and humanity. The data presented here show that having children and teenagers read
contemporary books in the classroom may align more with what they are reading out-
side of school. This might increase engagement (Glenn etal., 2018; Kim etal., 2016),
while also improving spelling skills, reading abilities, and reading rate.
Conclusion
In the past, Stanovich and Cunningham (1993) explained that they created the ART
to include “popular authors as opposed to ‘highbrow’ writers who would be known
by only the most academically inclined readers” (p. 213). The logic underpinning this
decision was that authors became bestsellers because people were buying, and pre-
sumably reading their work. According to Stanovich and Cunningham (1993), it was
the act of reading itself, rather than the material being read that spurred the cognitive
and social gains associated with print exposure. Granted, this claim has been modified
somewhat over the past two decades (c.f., Fong, Mullin, & Mar, 2013; Kidd & Castano,
2013); nevertheless, the general consensus remains that the cognitive and socio-emo-
tional benefits that fiction seem to offer are inextricably linked to reading volume, not
to books that are academically oriented.
Here we noted positive correlations between ART-CYA, reading ability, spell-
ing skills, and single word reading speed. Scores on the ART-CYA predicted reading
speed even after accounting for general reading skill. In contrast, had we only measured
print exposure using the ART-A, we would have concluded that print exposure was not
related to reading speed. Our findings therefore suggest that the ART-CYA was a more
sensitive measure for adolescents because it was capable of delineating participants
along the continuum from disavowed readers to avid readers (Ivey & Johnston, 2013).
In sum, we posit that the link between print exposure and single word reading speed
is critical. This is not because fast reading is the ultimate measure of expertise, but rather
because skillful readers require the flexibility to gauge the tempo of their reading speed
to match the content of their texts (Rayner, Schotter, Masson, Potter, & Treiman, 2016).
On the surface, fluent readers seem to see through the print to gain direct access to mean-
ing (Ehri, 2014). When students have reached this point in their development, reading no
longer feels like ‘work’. This is especially the case if they are transported into the novel
they are reading (Jensen etal., 2016). This information needs to be disseminated to teach-
ers so that more lesson plans and units can be created around popular, age appropriate,
books in schools (e.g., Kozak & Martin-Chang, 2019; Kim etal., 2016). Research has
shown that enjoyment of reading is the most potent predictor of print exposure (Mol &
Jolles, 2014). Therefore, having students read books they enjoy, written by authors who
are writing specifically for them, could be critical to continued literacy development.
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Appendix: ART (A andCYA combined)
Name Category Name Category
V. C. Andrews Adult Robert Emery Foil
Isaac Asimov Adult Jeffery Eugenides Adult
Margaret Atwood Adult Gordan Korman CYA
Jean M. Auel Adult Timothy Findley Adult
Russell Banks Adult John Flanagan CYA
David Baldacci Adult Robert Fulghum Adult
Sharon Creech CYA Diana Gabaldon Adult
James Dashner CYA Howard Gardner Adult
Roald Dahl CYA Elizabeth George Adult
Martin Ford Adult Stephen J. Gould Adult
Cornelia Funke CYA Sue Grafton Adult
Elliot Blass Foil Andrew Greeley Adult
Christopher Barr Foil Sheryl Green Foil
Lauren Benjamin Foil John Grisham Adult
Carol Berg Adult Alex Haley Adult
Pierre Berton Adult Mimi Hall Foil
Thomas Bever Foil Frank Herbert Adult
Maeve Binchy Adult S. E. Hinton CYA
Judy Blume CYA Erin Hunter CYA
Dan Brown Adult John Jakes Adult
Jennifer Butterworth Foil E.L. James Adult
Katherine Carpenter Foil Erica Jong Adult
Barbara Cartland Adult Wayne Johnston Adult
Agatha Christie Adult Robert Jordan Adult
Noam Chomsky Adult Frank Kiel Foil
Wayson Choy Adult Laurie King Adult
Tom Clancy Adult Stephen King Adult
Arthur Clarke Adult Jeff Kinney CYA
Suzanne Clarkson Foil Naomi Klein Adult
James Clavell Adult Sophie Kinsella Adult
Suzanne Collins CYA Dean Koontz Adult
Jackie Collins Adult Judith Krantz Adult
Stephen Coonts Adult Louis L’Amour Adult
Edward Cornell Foil Margaret Laurence Adult
Patricia Cornwell Adult Ursula LeGuin Adult
Robertson Davies Adult Madeleine L’Engle CYA
W. Patrick Dickson Foil Pricilla Levy Foil
C. S. Lewis CYA Gary Paulsen CYA
Lois Lowry CYA Philip Pullman CYA
Robert Ludlum Adult Daniel Quinn Adult
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Time toread Young Adult fiction: print exposure andlinguistic…
Name Category Name Category
Alex Lumsden Foil Anne Rice Adult
George R.R. Martin Adult Mordecai Richler Adult
Ann Marie McDonald Adult Rick Riordan CYA
Morton Mendelson Foil J.K. Rowling CYA
Stephenie Meyer CYA Rachel R. Russell CYA
Janet Evanovich Adult Robert J. Sawyer Adult
James Michener Adult Miriam Sexton Foil
Rohinton Mistry Adult Carol Shields Adult
Christopher Moore Adult Sidney Sheldon Adult
Lucy Maud Montgomery CYA Robert Siegler Foil
Michael Moore Adult Lemony Snicket CYA
James Morgan Foil Danielle Steel Adult
Alice Munro Adult Mark Strauss Foil
Katherine Paterson CYA Destin Shaw Foil
M. Scott Peck Adult Amy Tan Adult
David Perry Foil Miriam Toews Adult
Kate Pullinger Adult Alvin Toffler Adult
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... However, it is important to note that these books need not be 'highbrow' literature. While more research is needed in this area, Martin-Chang et al. (2020) found that familiarity with popular young adult fiction was positively associated with teenagers' reading and spelling achievement and reading speed. ...
... As a solution to this predicament, life span studies could use comprehensive recognition checklists with authors from the last three or four decades. ARTs that are tailored to participants' reading preferences explain additional variance in outcome measures over and above ARTs that are not adapted to their reading preferences (Mar & Rain, 2015;Martin-Chang, Kozak, & Rossi, 2019;Spear-Swerling, Brucker, & Alfano, 2010). An ART version for life span studies could be constructed by selecting and combining author items from previous ART versions (Acheson et al., 2008;Moore & Gordon, 2015;Stanovich et al., 1989 In conclusion, this study found that print exposure differed significantly between adolescence and old age. ...
Thesis
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Storybooks and talk centered around shared reading contain more rare words, complex syntax, and narrative structures than the language that caregivers usually use when talking to children. Therefore, interactive storybook reading has the potential to facilitate children’s acquisition of lower level language (LLL) skills (e.g., vocabulary, grammar) and higher level language (HLL) skills (e.g., comprehension monitoring, narrative comprehension). This dissertation addresses gaps in shared storybook reading research pertaining to questions of assessment, intervention, and early literacy models. It investigates from a developmental and educational perspective how shared reading in the home literacy environment (HLE) and the child care literacy environment (CCLE) is related to children’s oral language skills. The first aim is to validate two recognition tests for German-speaking participants. This allows an objective and economic assessment of storybook exposure and adult literature exposure, both of which are related to children’s language development. The second aim is to clarify (a) the relation between parent and child as literacy agents in a home literacy model of shared reading, and (b) whether shared reading is related to children’s HLL skills besides being related to their LLL skills. The third aim is to test the effectiveness of a narrative dialogic reading intervention targeting LLL and HLL skills. To this end, four studies were conducted. Study 1 validated a storybook title recognition test (TRT) for German-speaking preschoolers and caregivers. The TRT captures relative differences in the amount of shared reading. In structural equation models, the TRT was a unique predictor of preschoolers’ language skills, explaining about 50% of variance in language skills. By contrast, questionnaire measures of socioeconomic status and home literacy environment did not explain additional variance in language skills. Study 2 validated an author recognition test (ART) for 13 to 80-year-old German-speaking readers. The ART is a measure of leisure reading that explains a substantial amount of variance in caregivers’ language skills, which is in turn related to children’s language development. Even though print exposure accumulates with time, several life span studies did not find a positive relation between reader age and ART scores. Study 2 used a sample of 13- to 77-year-old readers. The recognition probability of classic authors increased between ages 15 and 65. By contrast, the recognition probability of recent authors only increased between ages 15 and 45. The author mean publication year turned out to be a key variable for estimating print exposure in age-diverse samples. This author variable should be taken into account when modelling relationships between literacy environments and children’s language skills, especially if the age of caregivers varies (e.g., adolescent siblings, parents, grand-parents). Study 3 examined how HLE and CCLE are related to preschoolers’ storybook exposure and how the storybook exposure of preschoolers, parents, and child care workers is related to LLL and HLL skills. Parents’ exposure to storybooks was a unique predictor of children’s vocabulary and grammar skills. Parents’ storybook exposure was also moderately related to children’s storybook exposure, which in turn explained unique variance in vocabulary, grammar, comprehension monitoring, and narrative comprehension. Therefore, the storybook exposure of children and parents should be conceptualized as related, but separate variables in models of the home literacy environment. Moreover, models should differentiate between LLL and HLL skills as correlates and outcomes of shared reading. Study 4 developed a narrative dialogic reading intervention with wordless picture books that targeted preschoolers’ LLL and HLL skills. The intervention had small short-term effects on narrative comprehension and vocabulary skills. Comparisons with an alternative treatment and a no treatment group showed that the effects were due to the specific intervention contents. Individual differences in storybook exposure and general cognitive abilities did not moderate intervention gains. Children in control groups caught up after five months, with the exception of inferential narrative comprehension, where intervention effects were maintained at first follow-up. This indicates that narrative dialogic reading provided a unique opportunity to preschoolers for learning inferential narrative comprehension skills. In sum, this dissertation provides new methods and insights for the assessment of print exposure and shows that narrative dialogic reading fosters a broad range of oral language skills. Regarding the refinement of early literacy models, additional analyses showed that, above children’s and parents’ storybook exposure, the ART was a unique predictor of LLL skills. Parental leisure reading and shared storybook reading were connected to children’s oral language skills through multiple pathways that should be represented in early literacy models.
... As a solution to this predicament, life span studies could use comprehensive recognition checklists with authors from the last three or four decades. ARTs that are tailored to participants' reading preferences explain additional variance in outcome measures over and above ARTs that are not adapted to their reading preferences (Mar & Rain, 2015;Martin-Chang, Kozak, & Rossi, 2019;Spear-Swerling, Brucker, & Alfano, 2010). An ART version for life span studies could be constructed by selecting and combining author items from previous ART versions (Acheson et al., 2008;Moore & Gordon, 2015;Stanovich & West, 1989). ...
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Leisure reading is a main contributor to print exposure, which is in turn related to individual differences in reading and language skills. The Author Recognition Test (ART) is a brief and objective measure of print exposure that has been used in reading research since the 1990s. Life span studies have reported contradicting results concerning age differences in print exposure, possibly due to the use of ART versions that differed regarding authors’ mean publication year. We investigated effects of participant age and authors’ mean publication year, literary level, and circulation frequency on author recognition probability between adolescence and old age (N = 339; age 13–77 years). An explanatory item response analysis showed that participant age and circulation frequency were positively related to recognition probability. Mean publication year was negatively related to recognition probability, indicating that recent authors who have been widely read for only a few years were less often recognized than classic authors who have been widely read for several decades. The relation between participant age and recognition probability was moderated by author variables. For classic authors, the recognition probability increased between adolescence and old age. By contrast, for recent authors, the recognition probability increased only between adolescence and middle age. Our results suggest that the mean publication year is a key author variable for the detection of print exposure differences between young, middle-aged and older adults. We discuss implications for author selection when updating the ART and for measuring print exposure in age-diverse samples. //// Data, analysis files, and test materials are available at Open Science Framework: https://osf.io/4hcwt/
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Despite the far-reaching advantages associated with leisure reading, it is an activity that fewer adolescents are choosing to pursue. The present study used a retrospective correlational approach to investigate shared storybook reading in childhood and current print exposure in 45 parent-adolescent dyads. Parents and adolescents completed a Retrospective Title Recognition Test, identifying storybook titles from a backdated list (books published before 2007) containing both real titles and foils. Adolescents also completed Activity Preference and Reading Enjoyment/Frequency questionnaires to assess reading habits as well as an Author Recognition Test to assess current print exposure. In addition, they were asked to name their favorite childhood storybook and favorite current author to investigate whether these two abilities were linked to print exposure. Vocabulary, reading, and spelling skills were also measured. A hierarchical multiple regression demonstrated that adolescents' Retrospective Title Recognition Test scores accounted for unique variance in their Author Recognition Test scores, above and beyond literacy skills. Mediational analyses demonstrated that print exposure contributed to word reading and spelling scores. Our findings highlight the impact of parents' shared storybook reading with children. Here, early reading experiences related to later reading preferences, which in turn, were associated with literacy skills in adolescence.
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Print exposure is an important causal factor in reading development. Little is known, however, of the mechanisms through which print exposure exerts an effect onto reading. To address this gap, we examined the direct and indirect effects of print exposure on silent reading fluency among college students (n = 52). More specifically, we focused on phonetic decoding and sight word reading efficiency as potential mediators of the indirect effects of print exposure on silent reading fluency. Silent reading fluency was chosen as the outcome given that the natural reading experience occurs predominately in the silent mode. Results showed that the direct effect of print exposure on silent reading fluency was significant. Sight word reading efficiency partially mediated the indirect effect of print exposure on silent reading fluency. Phonetic decoding efficiency also partially mediated the indirect effect of print exposure on silent reading fluency, but only when followed by sight word reading efficiency to form a serial and joint mechanism (i.e., print exposure → phonetic decoding → sight word reading → silent reading fluency). Present findings highlight two mechanisms through which print exposure exerts an effect onto silent reading fluency, both of which involve sight word reading efficiency.
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The present study tested the hypothesis that underlying orthographic representations vary in completeness within the individual, which is manifested in both spelling accuracy and reading speed. Undergraduate students were trained to improve their spelling of difficult words. Word reading speed was then measured for these same words, allowing for a direct evaluation of whether improvements in spelling would bring about faster reading speeds. Results were clear: Spelling accuracy and reading speed were strongly related across and within participants. Most important, words that improved in spelling accuracy were read more rapidly at posttest than words that did not show improvement in spelling. These results provide direct evidence showing that the quality of orthographic representations, as indexed by spelling accuracy, directly relates to reading speed. This is consistent with the lexical quality hypothesis and highlights the relevance of spelling in literacy acquisition.
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Our ability to infer and understand others’ thoughts and feelings, known as theory of mind (ToM), has important consequences across the life span, supporting empathy, pro-social behavior, and coordination in groups. Socialization practices and interpersonal interactions help develop this capacity, and so does engaging with fiction. Research suggests that lifetime exposure to fiction predicts performance on ToM tests, but little evidence speaks to the type of fiction most responsible for this effect. We draw from literary theory and empirical work to propose that literary fiction is more likely than genre fiction to foster ToM, describe the development of a new method for assessing exposure to literary and popular genre fiction, and report findings from 3 samples testing the specificity of the relation between exposure to literary fiction and ToM. Results indicate that exposure to literary but not genre fiction positively predicts performance on a test of ToM, even when accounting for demographic variables including age, gender, educational attainment, undergraduate major (in 2 samples), and self-reported empathy (in 1 sample). These findings offer further evidence that habitual engagement with others’ minds, even fictional ones, may improve the psychological processes supporting intersubjectivity. We discuss their implications for understanding the impacts of fiction, and for models of culture more generally.
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This study examines associations between leisure reading and reading skills in data of 2,525 students followed from age 7 to 16. As a step further from traditional cross‐lagged analysis, a random intercept cross‐lagged panel model was used to identify within‐person associations of leisure reading (books, magazines, newspapers, and digital reading), reading fluency, and reading comprehension. In Grades 1–3 poorer comprehension and fluency predicted less leisure reading. In later grades more frequent leisure reading, particularly of books, predicted better reading comprehension. Negative associations were found between digital reading and reading skills. The findings specify earlier findings of correlations between individuals by showing that reading comprehension improvement, in particular, is predicted by within‐individual increases in book reading.
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Individual readers vary greatly in the quality of their lexical representations, and consequently in how quickly and efficiently they can access orthographic and lexical knowledge. This variability may be explained, at least in part, by individual differences in exposure to printed language, because practice at reading promotes the development of stronger reading skills. In the present eyetracking experiment, we tested the hypothesis that the efficiency of word recognition during reading improves with increases in print exposure, by determining whether the magnitude of the repetition-priming effect is modulated by individual differences in scores on the author recognition test (ART). Lexical repetition of target words was manipulated across pairs of unrelated sentences that were presented on consecutive trials. The magnitude of the repetition effect was modulated by print exposure in early measures of processing, such that the magnitude of the effect was inversely related to scores on the ART. The results showed that low levels of print exposure, and thus lower-quality lexical representations, are associated with high levels of difficulty recognizing words, and thus with the greatest room to benefit from repetition. Furthermore, the interaction between scores on the ART and repetition suggests that print exposure is not simply an index of general reading speed, but rather that higher levels of print exposure are associated with an enhanced ability to access lexical knowledge and recognize words during reading.
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