Skip to main content

Writing starts with own name writing: From scribbling to conventional spelling in Israeli and Dutch children


The development of children's writing of their own names as compared to their writing of dictated words was examined on samples of children ranging from 2 to 5 years of age, who were immersed in Hebrew or Dutch and recruited from low to high socioeconomic status families. Analyses were based on four data sets collected in three studies. From a young age, children wrote their name on a higher level than they wrote other words, and name writing improved with age more rapidly than word writing across the whole age range. Furthermore, the intercorrelations between word writings, corrected for age, were generally higher than the correlation between word and name writing, indicating that children exhibit a unique approach to the writing of their own name, irrespective of other background variables. Children's advanced skill in writing their name may suggest that name writing promotes the development of writing in general.

Corresponding author
Iris Levin, School of Education, Tel Aviv, 69978, Israel. E-mail:
Hide All
Adi-Japha E., Levin I., & Solomon S. 1998. Emergence of representation in drawing: The relation between dynamic and referential aspects. Cognitive Development, 13, 2551.
Aram D. 2004. Early literacy interventions: The relative roles of storybook reading, alphabetic activities, and their combination. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Aram D., & Biron S. 2004. Joint storybook reading and joint writing interventions among low SES preschoolers: Differential contribution to early literacy. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 19, 588610.
Aram D., & Levin I. 2001. Mother–child joint writing in low SES: Sociocultural factors, maternal mediation, and emergent literacy. Cognitive Development, 16, 831852.
Arrow A., Fletcher–Flinn C. M., & Nicholson T. 2003. “That's my name”: Possible precursors to reading development. Poster presented at the Annual Conference of the Society for Scientific Study of Reading, Boulder, CO.
Bialystok E. 1991. Letters, sounds, and symbols: Changes in children's understanding of written language. Applied Psycholinguistics, 12, 7589.
Bloodgood J. W. 1999. What's in a name? Children's name writing and literacy acquisition. Reading Research Quarterly, 34, 342367.
Both–de Vries A., & Bus A. G. 2004. How symbolic is young children's writing? Manuscript submitted for publication.
Brenneman K., Massey C., Machado S. F., & Gelman R. 1996. Young children's plans differ for writing and drawing. Cognitive Development, 11, 397419.
Cohen J., & Cohen P. 1983. Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for behavioral science (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Ferreiro E., & Teberosky A. 1982. Literacy before schooling. New York: Heinemann.
Gombert J. E., & Fayol M. 1992. Writing in preliterate children. Learning and Instruction, 2, 2341.
Kellogg R. 1969. Analyzing children's art. Palo Alto, CA: National Press.
Levin I., & Aram D. 2004. Children's names contribute to early literacy: A linguistic and social perspective. In D. Ravid & H. Bat-Zeev Shyldkrot (Eds.), Perspectives on language and language development (pp. 219241). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.
Levin I., & Bus A. 2003. How is emergent writing based on drawing? Analyses of children's products and their sorting by children and mothers. Developmental Psychology, 39, 891905.
Levin I., Korat O., & Amsterdamer P. 1996. Emergent writing among kindergartners: Cross-linguistic commonalities and Hebrew-specific issues. In G. Rijlaarsdam, H. van der Bergh, & M. Couzijn (Eds.), Current trends in writing research: Theories, models and methodology (pp. 398419). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
Levin I., Share D. L., & Shatil E. 1996. A qualitative–quantitative study of preschool writing: Its development and contribution to school literacy. In C. M. Levy & S. Ransdaell (Eds.), The science of writing (pp. 271293). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Martens P. A. 1999. Mommy, how do you write “Sarah?”: The role of name writing in one child's literacy. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 14, 515.
Mandel D. R., Jusczyk P. W., & Pisoni D. B. 1996. Infants' recognition of the sound patterns of their own names. Psychological Science, 6, 314317.
Share L. C., & Levin I. 1999. Learning to read and write in Hebrew. In M. Harris & G. Hatano (Eds.), Learning to read and write: A cross linguistic perspective (pp. 89111). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Shatil E., Share D. C., & Levin I. 2000. On the contribution of kindergarten writing to grade 1 literacy: A longitudinal study in Hebrew. Applied Psycholinguistics, 21, 121.
Sulzby E., Barnhart J., & Hieshima J. 1989. Forms of writing and rereading from writing: A preliminary report. In J. Mason (Ed.), Reading–writing collection (pp. 3163). Neeham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Tolchinsky–Landsmann L., & Levin I. 1985. Writing in preschoolers: An age-related analysis. Applied Psycholinguistics, 6, 319339.
Treiman R., & Broderick V. 1998. What's in a name? Children's knowledge about the letters in their own names. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 70, 97116.
Treiman R., & Kessler B. 2003. The role of letter names in the acquisition of literacy. Advances in Child Development and Behavior, 31, 105135.
Treiman R., Kessler B., & Bourassa D. 2001. Children's own names influence their spelling. Applied Psycholinguistics, 22, 555570.
Treiman R., Tincoff R., & Richmond–Welty E. D. 1997. Beyond zebra: Preschoolers' knowledge about letters. Applied Psycholinguistics, 18, 391409.
Villaume S. K., & Wilson L. C. 1989. Preschool children's explorations of letters in their own names. Applied Psycholinguistics, 10, 283300.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Applied Psycholinguistics
  • ISSN: 0142-7164
  • EISSN: 1469-1817
  • URL: /core/journals/applied-psycholinguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 7
Total number of PDF views: 98 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 435 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th May 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.