DEVELOPMENT OF JAPANESE CHILDREN'S BOOK READING: A LONGITUDINAL STUDY OF RELATIONS BETWEEN ACQUISITION OF KANA AND BOOK READING
 
Akita, K., Tokyo University, Japan
 
The study examined developmental processes in the book reading activities of 129 Japanese children. Three, 4 and 5 year old children were asked to read a picture book and kana cards aloud. Three testing sessions took place over a one-year period. Changes in children's reading were analyzed in relation to their acquisition of letters. Four major findings were as follows. First, Children who had acquired about half of the kana letters began to change from describing pictures to reading letters. Their way of reading was affected by their acquisition of letters. Second, even children who mastered all letters made mistakes such as starting to read backwards from left to right. This suggested that children who acquired letters did not necessarily understand conventional rules about books. Third, children pointed their fingers at letters from an early age, but this behavior disappeared gradually. Fourth, children who read in units of syllables understood more than those who read one letter at a time.