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International Reading Association Awards Outstanding Dissertation Honor to TC Researcher

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nternational Reading Association Awards Outstanding Dissertation Honor to TC Researcher

Pia Rebello Brito

Pia Rebello Brito, who received her doctorate in Developmental Psychology and is a research scientist at the Center for Young Children and Families, has won the 2001 International Reading Association Outstanding Dissertation Award for her study, "Family Literacy Environments and Young Children's Emerging Literacy Skills."

The International Reading Association seeks to promote high levels of literacy through the study of the reading process and teaching techniques. The Outstanding Dissertation of the Year Award is supported by a grant from Scott Foresman, a division of Addison-Wesley Longman, educational publishers.

Rebello Brito's dissertation addressed the complex nature of literacy acquisition through multidimensional models of family literacy. The study examined the association between family literacy environments and the literary skills of low income, African-American, pre-school, and school-aged children.

"When young children become interested in reading or literacy, there's much more than reading. There are many things that parents and families do in the home that are associated with aspects of children's interest in literacy or in developing literacy skills," said Rebello Brito.

According to Rebello Brito, she examined the relative and differential importance of three dimensions of family literacy-language and verbal interactions, the learning climate and the social-emotional climate-vis-a-vis a range of young children's emerging literacy skills.

"What I tried to do was combine these dimensions in a way that we will get a complete picture of what goes on at home," said Rebello Brito.

She then looked at a set of children's outcomes relating to emerging literacy, whether language used or the school readiness of the children.

"The results indicated that the language environment in the home demonstrated a stronger association with preschoolers' expressive as opposed to receptive vocabulary and that young children's readiness skills were associated with the learning and social-emotional climate in the home."

Portions of Rebello Brito's dissertation will be published the monograph series, New Directions in Child Development (Jossey Bass).

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