Shared book reading

An informal literacy activity par excellence

Authored by: Monique Sénéchal

The Routledge International Handbook of early Literacy Education

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138787889
eBook ISBN: 9781315766027
Adobe ISBN: 9781317659204


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Parents read books to their young children for the enjoyment and quality time it provides. During storybook reading, however, young children can also learn. In this chapter, the research reviewed showed that young children’s oral language is enhanced: (1) when they participate in multiple readings of books rather than a single reading; (2) when they are actively involved rather than listening passively to the book rendition; (3) and that different types of active involvement affect differently how children learn to comprehend, to produce and to describe novel words. In contrast to these positive effects of book reading on young children’s oral language, a synthesis of nine studies showed that shared reading was not a source of early literacy learning (e.g. alphabet knowledge) for young children. Rather than improving early literacy per se, perhaps shared reading increases children’s motivation to read for pleasure. Hints of this were found in two longitudinal studies where parent reports of the frequency of shared reading or the amount of time spent reading during the preschool years predicted four years later the frequency with which their children reported reading for pleasure as well as children’s intrinsic motivation to read.

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