Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Psychological Sciences

First Advisor

George J. Hollich

Committee Chair

George J. Hollich

Committee Member 1

Barbara Younger-Rossmann

Committee Member 2

William G. Graziano


This thesis looks at the origins of reading (before the age of 5) through the lens of early language development. We used an iPad to test if children can make the connection between printed words and the spoken word or their visual referent. Using a forced choice procedure, inspired by the traditional Preferential Looking Paradigm, we tested 30 children, ages 2-4 years. Results suggest that children as young as 2 years of age can indeed make spoken word-to-print connections. Specifically, by emphasizing or exaggerating text differences, we were able to get children (2-4 years of age) to correctly tap the printed word that corresponded to a spoken request. Some children were extremely successful in the print task (getting greater than 12 out of 16 correct, with five children getting perfect scores) far exceeding chance values even at the individual level. Children were also able to correctly tap the printed word when prompted by a picture of that word. We conclude that this method represents a new avenue to test young children's developing reading ability and a potential means to.