Parents' interactions with preschoolers during shared book reading: three strategies for promoting quality interactions

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Date: January-February 2014
From: Childhood Education(Vol. 90, Issue 1)
Publisher: Association for Childhood Education International
Document Type: Report
Length: 3,863 words
Lexile Measure: 1440L

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Research shows that home environments play a critical role in developing children's early literacy skills. Given the importance of developing early literacy skills to bolster children's chances for subsequent academic success, this article highlights the role of parent-child shared book reading. Summarizing research on different types of parent-child interactions during shared book reading, it unveils strategies that parents may use to maximize the benefits of these experiences. The strategies have implications across cultures to enhance understanding of and appreciation for home-based practices in building supportive literacy environments for preschoolers.

As a primary context in which young children encounter language and literacy, the home environment plays a crucial role in children's early literacy development. Preschool children from stimulating home literacy environments benefit from engaging in a wide variety of literacy activities, such as shared storybook reading, play-based activities, and conversations with family members (Wood, 2002). Given the importance of early literacy skills as a foundation for children's subsequent reading development and academic success (Bennett, Weigel, & Martin, 2002), an enhanced understanding of supportive literacy environments in the homes of preschoolers is essential.

Among components of home literacy, one area that has received a great deal of attention is parent-child shared book reading. Experts recommend that parents read books with their young children in an interactive way (National Early Literacy Panel, 2008). In fact, most parents and researchers agree that shared reading practices effectively support young children's early literacy development (Deckner, Adamson, & Bakeman, 2006). Research generally suggests that shared book reading contributes positively to children's acquisition of early literacy skills (Bus, IJzendoorn, & Pellegrini, 1995; Scarborough & Dobrich, 1994). During shared reading, young children have opportunities to develop their vocabulary knowledge, print knowledge, and other early literacy skills, as well as their interest in reading. In particular, consistent and strong evidence exists for the association between shared book reading and children's oral language outcomes, including vocabulary performance (National Early Literacy Panel, 2008; Senechal, LeFevre, Hudson, & Lawson, 1996).

Given the evidence supporting the importance of parents frequently reading with their young children, increasing attention has been paid to the quality of shared book reading practices (Bingham, 2007). Primary issues of interest from this perspective include the kinds of interactions parents and children engage in during shared reading and how variations in reading interactions influence what and how much children learn from their shared reading experiences (Hindman, Connor, Jewkes, & Morrison, 2008; Reese & Cox, 1999). Understanding the elements of these processes may help explain why shared book reading has differential effects on a range of early literacy skills in diverse contexts. Focusing on the quality of reading interactions may provide evidence-based strategies that parents can use to maximize the benefits of shared book reading.

Examining parent-child interactions during shared book reading necessitates an understanding that shared reading is a social and interactive activity (Morrow, 1988). During shared reading, an adult may use verbal and nonverbal cues or ask questions about the text, which may, in turn, elicit the child's responses, questions,...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A357965667