Shared reading interactions : identifying and developing reading behaviours between parents and preschool children
Research has shown that parent-child shared reading interactions in the preschool period can enhance children's early language and literacy skills, and it is acknowledged that the way parents read with their children is particularly important. This thesis explores the shared reading behaviours of parents and young children in order to identify and develop reading behaviours, especially those that may promote language and literacy skills. Two studies are reported. First, a short, intensive, techniques-based reading intervention programme, called 'dialogic reading' designed to enhance children's language skills was carried out using an experimental design. Programme group parents were shown a number of 'dialogic' techniques to use when reading with their children. Interviews showed that parents were implementing the techniques and that they valued the programme. The early literacy skills of the programme group were significantly enhanced by the intervention although there were no effects on their language skills. The second study explored in some depth how parents and children read together, and whether behaviours that promoted language and literacy development could be identified. Eight mothers with three-year-old children from varying socioeconomic backgrounds were videotaped reading together. Two methods of analysis were employed: a holistic and a more systematic approach. There were substantial differences in the ways mothers and children read, although all mothers used a wide variety of reading behaviours. There was evidence that referring to abstract events and situations, or high-level demand language, promoted language and literacy development. All mothers used some dialogic behaviours, particularly when supporting their children's attempts to read to them. Study 2 also demonstrated that the type of books read affected interactions, with expository books generating the most interaction. Dyads ranked higher on a measure of education and occupation, the educational occupational ranking (EOR), tended to engage in the highest levels of participation, high-level demand language and the longest episodes. The findings show that the range of shared reading behaviours used by parents is far more extensive than those promoted by dialogic reading; indeed, dialogic reading largely overlooks important behaviours, such as high-level demand language.