Supporting children's language and literacy skills : the effectiveness of shared book reading intervention strategies with parents

Sim, Soh Hong (2012) Supporting children's language and literacy skills : the effectiveness of shared book reading intervention strategies with parents. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Parents are encouraged to read with their children from an early age because shared book reading helps children to develop their language and early literacy skills. A pragmatic Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) research design was adopted to investigate the influence of two forms of a shared reading intervention (Dialogic Reading and Dialogic Reading with the addition of Print Referencing) on children’s language and literacy skills. Dialogic reading is a validated shared reading intervention that has been shown to improve children’s oral language skills prior to formal schooling (Whitehurst & Lonigan, 1998). Print referencing is another form of shared reading intervention that has the potential to have effects on children’s print knowledge as they begin school (Justice & Ezell, 2002). However, training parents to use print referencing strategies at home has not been researched extensively although research findings indicate its effectiveness when used by teachers in the early years of school.

Eighty parents of Preparatory year children from three Catholic schools in low income areas in the outer suburbs of a metropolitan city were trained to deliver specific shared reading strategies in an eight-week home intervention. Parents read eight books to their children across the period of the intervention. Each book was requested to be read at least three times a week. There were 42 boys and 38 girls ranging in age from 4.92 years to 6.25 years (M=5.53, SD=0.33) in the sample. The families were randomly assigned to three groups: Dialogic Reading (DR); Dialogic Reading with the addition of Print Referencing (DR + PR); and a Control group. Six measures were used to assess children’s language skills at pre and post, and follow-up (three months after the intervention). These measures assessed oral language (receptive and expressive vocabulary), phonological awareness skills (rhyme, word completion), alphabet knowledge, and concepts about print.

Results of the intervention showed that there were significant differences from pre to post between the two intervention groups and the control group on three measures: expressive vocabulary, rhyme, and concepts about print. The shared reading strategies delivered by parents of the dialogic reading, and dialogic reading with the addition of print referencing, showed promising results to develop children’s oral language skills in terms of expressive vocabulary and rhyme, as well as understanding of the concepts about print. At follow-up, when the children entered Year 1, the two intervention groups (DR and DR + PR) group had significantly maintained their knowledge of concepts about prints when compared with the control group. Overall, the findings from this intervention study did not show that dialogic reading with the addition of print referencing had stronger effects on children’s early literacy skills than dialogic reading alone.

The research also explored if pre-existing family factors impacted on the outcomes of the intervention from pre to post. The relationships between maternal education and home reading practices prior to intervention and child outcomes at post were considered. However, there were no significant effects of maternal education and home literacy activities on child outcomes at post. Additionally, there were no significant effects for the level of compliance of parents with the intervention program in terms of regular weekly reading to children during the intervention period on child outcomes at post. These non-significant findings are attributed to the lack of variability in the recruited sample. Parents participating in the intervention had high levels of education, although they were recruited from schools in low socio-economic areas; parents were already highly engaged in home literacy activities at recruitment; and the parents were highly compliant in reading regularly to their child during the intervention.

Findings of the current study did show that training in shared reading strategies enhanced children’s early language and literacy skills. Both dialogic reading and dialogic reading with the addition of print referencing improved children’s expressive vocabulary, rhyme, and concepts about print at post intervention. Further research is needed to identify how, and if, print referencing strategies used by parents at home can be effective over and above the use of dialogic reading strategies. In this research, limitations of sample size and the nature of the intervention to use print referencing strategies at home may have restricted the opportunities for this research study to find more effects on children’s emergent literacy skills or for the effectiveness of combining dialogic reading with print referencing strategies. However, these results did indicate that there was value in teaching parents to implement shared reading strategies at home in order to improve early literacy skills as children begin formal schooling.

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ID Code: 60975
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Berthelsen, Donna, Walker, Sue, & Nicholson, Jan
Keywords: oral language skills, print awareness skills, receptive vocabulary, expressive vocabulary, rhyme, concepts about print, reading intervention, randomised controlled trial, shared book reading, dialogic reading, print referencing, socio-economic status, vulnerable families
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 27 Jun 2013 06:11
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015 02:34

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