Kristen Fahey

Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Sciences and Disorders


Nancy E. Hall

Second Committee Member

Lorriann Mahan

Third Committee Member

Janet Spector


This study explores the differences in the verbal interactions that fathers and mothers have with their toddlers during a joint book reading session. In addition, it investigates which types of interactions predict vocabulary in order to determine the qualitative aspects of joint book reading that promote future literacy development. This exploration tests the 'Bridge Hypothesis' and examines its implications for joint book reading and emergent literacy in toddlers. The study included, the families of eight toddlers, who ranged from 23 to 32 months of age. Vocabulary was assessed using the McArthur Bates Communicative Developmental Inventory (CDI). Speech acts used by fathers and mothers during a joint book reading interaction were analyzed. Results supported previous findings that fathers tended to use speech acts that were more linguistically challenging to their toddlers (i.e. indirect directive, questions, and talking directly about their child's talking) than did mothers. Furthermore, a relationship between the use of less complex speech acts (i.e. direct directives) and lower vocabulary scores was observed. The findings of this study support the inclusion of fathers in early literacy activities in order to further support the growth of emergent literacy skills in toddlers.