Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Micah McCreary


Literacy is a basic fundamental skill for academic, professional, and social success in our culture. Children with low exposure to reading can experience reading difficulties, diminished cognitive development, and poor academic outcomes. Inconsistency in the conceptualization of early literacy has hampered research and development of successful, translational early literacy interventions, particularly for children from low-income households. Preschoolers from low-income, urban backgrounds (n = 426), including 221 females and 205 males aged 35 - 60 months (M = 47.46, SD = 6.44) participated in an investigation of the latent factorial structure of early literacy. The study also explored whether children’s psychological strengths and their family’s literacy-related behaviors support improvement of early literacy skills following completion of a literacy development intervention. Results support a three-factor model of early literacy proposed by Sénéchal, LeFevre, Smith-Chant, and Colton (2001). This study also found that, despite the influence of age, sex, and family income, children’s psychological strengths and family literacy behaviors are predictive of early literacy skills comprised of this three-factor structure. However, only children’s psychological strengths predicted improvements in early literacy scores at post-test. Implications for preschool interventions and measurement of early and family literacy constructs are discussed.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2010

Included in

Psychology Commons