A Corpus and Behavioral Analysis of the Quality of Young Children’s STEM Books

AbstractPromoting early STEM knowledge helps to prepare children for formal schooling. Shared book reading may promote early STEM knowledge. This research examined the quality of available STEM books in children’s environments and investigated how such books influenced children’s learning in shared book reading contexts. In Study 1, we used both meaning-based human coding and computerized latent semantic analysis to categorize books based on the extent to which they provided support for encoding and demand for active recall. We found similarity in the ratings using the two approaches. Most books fell into categories characterized by low Support and Demand. In Study 2, we found that 4- to 5-year-olds learned more STEM facts when books were high in Support and/or Demand, although few books fell into those categories. This research highlights the importance that textual features of books play in promoting early STEM knowledge during shared book reading.

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