This study examined teachers’ spontaneous low-level comprehension questions in script-supported informational read alouds, with a secondary analysis on the relationship between low- and high-level comprehension questions. Participants included 34 teachers and 824 third-grade students. Results revealed notable variation in the type and function of low-level questions, with some offering support for high-level questions or content learning. Although the predominance of low-level questioning patterns continues to be a challenge in many elementary classrooms, this study’s findings suggest some low-level questions play important, complementary functions in text discussions, particularly with informational text.
An Examination of Low-Level Questions in Informational Read Alouds
Elizabeth Hale and James S. Kim, Providing Platforms: An Examination of Low-Level Questions in Informational Read Alouds, The Elementary School Journal 120, no. 4 (June 2020): 555-579. https://doi.org/10.1086/708665
Differences in Parent-Toddler Interactions With Electronic Versus Print Books
Researchers examined parent-toddler verbal and nonverbal interactions when reading electronic versus print books. Results revealed that reading print books together generated more verbalizations about the story from parents and from toddlers, more back and forth “dialogic” collaboration. (“What’s happening here?” “Remember when you went to the beach with Dad?”). Future studies should examine specific aspects of tablet-book design that support parent-child interaction. Pediatricians may wish to continue promoting shared reading of print books, particularly for toddlers and younger children.
When Children Are Not Read to at Home: The Million Word Gap
In the U.S., there are numerous ongoing efforts to remedy the word gap: massive differences in heard vocabulary for poor versus advantaged children during the first 5 years of life. One potentially important resource for vocabulary exposure is children's book reading sessions, which are more lexically diverse than standard caregiver-child conversations and have demonstrated significant correlational and causal influences on children's vocabulary development. Yet, nationally representative data suggest that around 25% of caregivers never read with their children. This study uses data from 60 commonly read children's books to estimate the number of words that children are exposed to during book reading sessions. Results showed that parents who read 1 picture book with their children every day provide their children with exposure to an estimated 78,000 words each a year. Cumulatively, over the 5 years before kindergarten entry, researchers estimate that children from literacy-rich homes hear a cumulative 1.4 million more words during storybook reading than children who are never read to. These results suggest that home-based shared book reading represents an important resource for closing the word gap.
Teachers’ use of questions during shared book reading: Relations to child responses
This study examined the extent to which preschool teachers used different types of questions during classroom-based shared book reading. The goals were to describe the question wording teachers use to elicit child responses and to consider sequential relations between types of question wording and student responses. Only 24 percent of what teachers said outside of reading the text were questions – and those that they did ask were usually too simple. Most teacher questions were easy for children to answer accurately or with a single word, indicating that teachers are not adjusting their questioning techniques to a level of challenge that is just above children’s overall level of mastery. Important implications of these findings are discussed for educators as well as curriculum developers.
English Reading Growth in Spanish‐Speaking Bilingual Students: Moderating Effect of English Proficiency on Cross‐Linguistic Influence
Jackie Eunjung Relyea, Steven J. Amendum. English Reading Growth in Spanish‐Speaking Bilingual Students: Moderating Effect of English Proficiency on Cross‐Linguistic Influence. Child Development, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/cdev.13288
This study found that children who had strong early reading skills in their native Spanish language when they entered kindergarten experienced greater growth in their ability to read English from kindergarten through fourth grade. When the researchers factored in how well the students spoke English, it turned out that native language reading skills mattered more — even at kindergarten entry — to the students' growth across time. These results indicate that children who had stronger Spanish reading skills upon entering kindergarten did better across time, even than their Spanish-speaking peers who were more fluent in speaking English but less proficient in reading Spanish. For parents, the message is simple: read to your children in whatever is your best language. The skills they learn from reading with you will translate in the classroom no matter what language you use.
Reading Aloud, Play, and Social-Emotional Development
This study looked at the impacts on social-emotional development at school entry of a pediatric primary care intervention called the Video Interaction Project (VIP), promoting positive parenting through reading aloud and play, delivered in two phases: infant through toddler (VIP 0-3) and preschool-age (VIP 3-5). VIP 0-3 resulted in sustained impacts on behavior problems 1.5 years after program completion. VIP 3-5 had additional, independent impacts. The children whose families had participated in the intervention when they were younger were still less likely to manifest those behavior problems — aggression, hyperactivity, difficulty with attention. These results support the use of pediatric primary care to promote reading aloud and play from birth to 5 years, and the potential for such programs to enhance social-emotional development.
Kids & Family Reading Report
Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report. New York: NY.
This biannual survey explores the reading attitudes and experiences that most influence children's reading habits, including reading aloud at home, independent reading at school, presence of books in the home, and more.
Early Reading Matters: Long-term Impacts of Shared Bookreading with Infants and Toddlers on Language and Literacy Outcomes
Cates, Carolyn; Weisleder, Adriana; Dreyer, Benard; Johnson, Matthew; Seery, Anne; Canfield, Caitlin F.; Berkule Johnson, Samantha; and Mendelsohn, Alan L. Reading with children starting in infancy gives lasting literacy boost: Shared book-reading that begins soon after birth may translate into higher language and vocabulary skills before elementary school. (May 2017) American Academy of Pediatrics.
This research study shows that reading books with a child beginning in early infancy can boost vocabulary and reading skills four years later, before the start of elementary school. Book-reading quality during early infancy, in particular, predicted early reading skills while book-reading quantity and quality during toddler years appeared strongly tied to later emergent literacy skills, such as name-writing at age 4. The results highlight the importance of parenting programs used in pediatric primary care that promote shared book-reading soon after birth, such as Read Out and Read.
Adapted Shared Storybook Reading
This study investigated the use of an adapted shared reading protocol with three children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in home settings. In addition, this study was to investigate whether individual components of the intervention package contributed to its overall effectiveness. Finally, the extent to which the participating children generalized their ability to engage in adapted shared reading with the researcher to shared reading with their parents was explored. The results of the investigation indicate that the children with ASD demonstrated improvements in engagement in shared reading and these improvements generalized to shared reading with the children’s parents.
Relationships Between Home Literacy Practices and School Achievement: Implications for Consultation and Home–School Collaboration
Nicole Lynn Alston-Abel and Virginia Berninger. Relationships Between Home Literacy Practices and School Achievement: Implications for Consultation and Home–School Collaboration. Journal of Psychological and Educational Consultation, p 1-26, May 23, 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10474412.2017.1323222
In a 5-year longitudinal study of typical literacy development (Grades 1–5 or 3–7), relationships were examined between (a) parental responses to questionnaires about home literacy activities and ratings of children’s self-regulation at home, both completed annually by the same parent, and (b) children’s reading and writing achievement assessed annually at the university. Higher reading and writing achievement correlated with engaging in more home literacy activities. Parental help or monitoring of home literacy activities was greater for low-achieving than for high-achieving readers or writers. Children engaged more minutes per week in reading than writing activities at home, but parents provided more help with writing and reported computers were used more for homework than for school literacy instruction. Parental ratings of self-regulation of attention remained stable, but executive functions — goal-setting, hyperactivity, and impulsivity — tended to improve. Results are translated into consultation tips for literacy learning and best professional practices.
The Words Children Hear: Picture Books and the Statistics for Language Learning
Jessica L. Montag, Michael N. Jones, and Linda B. Smith. The Words Children Hear: Picture Books and the Statistics for Language Learning, Psychological Science 0956797615594361, August 4, 2015.
Young children learn language from the speech they hear. Previous work suggests that greater statistical diversity of words and of linguistic contexts is associated with better language outcomes. One potential source of lexical diversity is the text of picture books that caregivers read aloud to children. In this study, researchers looked at the language content of 100 popular picture books. In comparing the language in books to the language used by parents talking to their children, the researchers found that the picture books contained more “unique word types.” The text of picture books may be an important source of vocabulary for young children, and these findings suggest a mechanism that underlies the language benefits associated with reading to children.
Home Reading Environment and Brain Activation in Preschool Children Listening to Stories
John S. Hutton, Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus, Alan L. Mendelsohn, Tom DeWitt, Scott K. Holland. Home Reading Environment and Brain Activation in Preschool Children Listening to Stories, , August 10, 2015. doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-0359
Functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to study brain activity in 3-to 5-year-old children as they listened to age-appropriate stories. The researchers found differences in brain activation according to how much the children had been read to at home. Children whose parents reported more reading at home and more books in the home showed significantly greater activation of brain areas in a region of the left hemisphere called the parietal-temporal-occipital association cortex. This brain area supports mental imagery and narrative comprehension. Children who were exposed to more books and home reading showed significantly more activity in the areas of the brain that process visual association, even though the child was in the scanner just listening to a story and could not see any pictures.
Print-related practices in low-income Latino homes and preschoolers’ school-readiness outcomes
Schick, A.R., Melzi, G. Print-related practices in low-income Latino homes and preschoolers’ school-readiness outcomes, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, July 5, 2015. doi: 10.1177/1468798415592009
This study examined literacy practices in the homes of 127 low-income Latino preschoolers enrolled in bilingual preschool classrooms. Researchers investigated the print-related practices that Latino primary caregivers engaged in with their preschool-aged children at the start of the school year and explored the relation between these practices and children’s language, literacy, and social–emotional school-readiness outcomes at the end of the preschool year. The results demonstrate the importance of print – including books and non-book-related environmental print – for Latino preschool children’s development of early literacy and self-regulation skills. In addition, the results highlight that when sharing picture books with their children, low-income Latino caregivers provided the majority of the information to their children, and ask few questions of them, thereby adopting a sole-narrator participatory role.
Association of the Type of Toy Used During Play With the Quantity and Quality of Parent-Infant Communication
Researchers gave families three different kinds of toys to play with: books, traditional toys like stacking blocks and a shape sorter, and electronic toys. Results indicated that play with electronic toys is associated with decreased quantity and quality of language input compared with play with books or traditional toys. To promote early language development, play with electronic toys should be discouraged. Traditional toys may be a valuable alternative for parent-infant play time if book reading is not a preferred activity. Blocks and puzzles stimulated more conversation than the electronic toys, and books outscored them all.
Kids & Family Reading Report: 5th Edition
Scholastic (2015) Kids & Family Reading Report: 5th Edition. New York: NY.
This biannual survey explores the reading attitudes and experiences that most influence children's reading habits, including reading aloud at home, independent reading at school, presence of books in the home, and more. Findings from the 2014 survey show that just over 1,000 children ages 6 to 17, only 31 percent said they read a book for fun almost daily, down from 37 percent four years ago. The report asks what makes children frequent readers, creating two models for predicting children's reading frequency-one each among kids ages 6–11 and 12–17-constructed through a regression analysis of more than 130 data measures from the survey. Across both groups, three powerful predictors that children will be frequent readers include: (1) the child's reading enjoyment; (2) parents who are frequent readers; and (3) the child's belief that reading for fun is important.
Fathers' Language Input During Shared Book Activities: Links to Children's Kindergarten Achievement
Baker, C. E., Vernon-Feagans, L., & the Family Life Project Investigators. (2015) Fathers' language input during shared book activities: Links to children's kindergarten achievement. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 36, 53-59.
How much fathers talk to young children has a direct positive effect on their kindergarten performance. This study used data from the Family Life Project to examine predictive relations between fathers' and mothers' language input during a wordless picture book task in the home just before kindergarten entry and children's letter — word identification, picture vocabulary, and applied problems scores at the end of kindergarten. Analysis revealed that mothers' talk ("mean length of utterance") predicted children's applied problems scores. More importantly, fathers' mean length of utterance predicted children's vocabulary and applied problems scores above and beyond mothers' language. Findings highlight the unique contribution of fathers to children's early academic achievement. Implications for future research, practice, and policy are discussed.
Differing Cognitive Trajectories of Mexican American Toddlers: The Role of Class, Nativity, and Maternal Practices
Fuller, B., Bein, E., Kim, Y., and Rabe-Hesketh, S. (2015) Differing Cognitive Trajectories of Mexican American Toddlers: The Role of Class, Nativity, and Maternal Practices, Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences 20 February 2015.
This study revealed that Latino toddlers whose language comprehension is roughly similar to white peers at 9 months old fall significantly behind by the time they are two years old. The study found that four-fifths of the nation's Mexican American toddlers lagged three to five months behind whites in preliteracy skills, oral language and familiarity with print materials. Mothers of toddlers who fell behind were more likely to be foreign-born, low-income and less educated. They were also less likely to read to their children daily or give them as much praise and encouragement as those whose children kept pace with white peers.s. Although earlier studies have shown that Latino children are raised with emotional warmth and develop social skills on par with others when they enter kindergarten, the new research found they are not receiving sufficient language and literacy skills at home
The Joy and Power of Reading: A Summary of Research and Expert Opinion
Bridges, L. (2014) The Joy and Power of Reading: A Summary of Research and Expert Opinion. New York: Scholastic.
This summary of research and expert opinion highlights the importance of reading volume, stamina and independent reading and how that builds comprehension, background knowledge, vocabulary and fluency skills. The report also discusses the value of reader choice and variety in developing motivation and confidence; guided reading and interactive read alouds in schools; and reading aloud plus talk at home.
Relationships Between Inferential Book Reading Strategies and Young Children's Language and Literacy Competence
Dunst, Carl, Williams, A, Trivette, C, Simkus, A, Hamby, D. (2012). Relationships Between Inferential Book Reading Strategies and Young Children's Language and Literacy Competence. CELLreviews 5(10), 1-10.
This meta-analysis looks at how different types of inferential book reading strategies used by adults are associated with young children's language and literacy behavior and development. Results showed that parents' and teachers' use of different types of inferencing strategies were related to variations in the child outcomes, and that the effects of inferencing were conditioned on the children's ages.
Effects of Reading to Infants and Toddlers on Their Early Language Development
Dunst, Carl J.; Simkus, Andrew; Hamby, Deborah W. (2012). Effects of Reading to Infants and Toddlers on Their Early Language Development. CELLreviews 5(4), Asheville, NC: Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute.
The effects of reading to infants and toddlers were examined in a meta-analysis of six intervention studies including 408 participants. Results indicated that interventions were effective in promoting the children's expressive and receptive language. The benefits of the interventions increased the earlier the interventions were started and the longer they were implemented. Implications of the findings for research and practice are described.
Repeated Book Reading and Preschoolers' Early Literacy Development
Trivette, C. M., Simkus, A., Dunst, C.J., Hamby, D.W. (2012). Repeated book reading and preschoolers’ early literacy development. CELL reviews, 5 (5).
The effects of repeated book reading on children's early literacy and language development were examined in this meta-analysis of 16 studies including 466 child participants. Results indicated that repeated book reading influenced both story-related vocabulary and story-related comprehension. Findings also showed that the adults' use of manipulatives or illustrations related to the story, positive reinforcement of children's comments, explanation concerning the story when asked, and open-ended questions to prompt child verbal responses were associated with positive child outcomes. Implications for practice are described.
Increasing Young Children's Contact with Print During Shared Reading: Longitudinal Effects on Literacy Achievement
Piasta, S.B., Justice, S. B., Justice, L. M., McGinty, A. S., & Kaderavek, J. N. (2012). Increasing young children's contact with print during shared reading: Longitudinal effects on literacy achievement. Child Development, 83(3), 810-820.
This study examined the impact of Project STAR (Sit Together and Read) on literacy skills of preschool students. Project STAR is a program in which teachers read books aloud to their students and use instructional techniques designed to encourage children to pay attention to print within storybooks. Results of the study indicated a causal relationship between early print knowledge and later literacy skills.
Print Books vs. E-books
Chiong, C., Ree, J., & Takeuchi, L. (2012). Print books vs. e-books. Joan Ganz Cooney Center.
This initial small-scale study explored parent–child interactions as they read print and digital books together. How do adults and children read e-books compared to print books? How might the nature of parent-child conversations differ across platforms? Which design features of e-books appear to support parent-child interaction? Do any features detract from these interactions?
Trajectories of the Home Learning Environment Across the First 5 Years: Associations With Children's Vocabulary and Literacy Skills at Prekindergarten
Rodriguez, Eileen; Tamis-LeMonda, Catherine S. (2011) Trajectories of the Home Learning Environment Across the First 5 Years: Associations With Children's Vocabulary and Literacy Skills at Prekindergarten. Child Development 82(4).
A study that looked at the home environments of more than 1,850 children from households at or below the federal poverty line showed that factors such as levels of shared reading, exposure to frequent and varied adult speech, and access to children's books had an impact on school readiness skills. "As a parent, it is never too early to engage your child in learning," said Amber Story, a social psychologist and deputy director of the National Science Foundation's Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences, which funded the study. "This research suggests that the degree to which parents read and talk to their infant; point and label objects in the environment; and provide engaging books and toys when their child is only 15 months old can have long-lasting effects on the infant's language skills years later."
How Words Can and Cannot Be Learned by Observation
Medinaa, TN, Snedekerc, J, Trueswella, J, & Gleitmana, G. (2011). How words can and cannot be learned by observation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(22), 9014-9019.
"If language experiences are not rich, then where is your interest to retain them?" says Janice H. Im of Zero to Three: the National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families. A new study from University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University suggests that understanding basic words may come from a flash of initial insight more than repetition. The study's findings suggest that children build concrete vocabulary by interacting with a complex, rich learning environment, not just repeated exposure to words in isolation.
Clinical Discourse and Engagement during Shared Storybook Reading in Preschool Groups
Sylvia Diehl and Bobbie Vaughan. Clinical Discourse and Engagement during Shared Storybook Reading in Preschool Groups. Seminars in Speech and Language, 2010 May, 31(2):111-21. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1252112.
This study investigated the impact of discourse on engagement in shared storybook reading in children who are language impaired and hard to engage. Although active participation in shared storybook reading in children who are typically developing is well defined, research has shown that the engagement of children with language disorders differ as a result of adult reading styles. To investigate the influence of reading style on children who were hard to engage, four shared storybook-reading sessions were analyzed. Within the highly engaged sessions studied, several discourse features were identified that were supportive of the engagement of children with language impairment who were difficult to engage. These features were a balance of requests and responses between clinician and child, use of various scaffolding measures, and a focus on content through the use of pausing, inflection, and volume. The discourse patterns identified were additional to the strategies associated with dialogic book-reading literature focused on active participation.