Shared book reading in kindergarten: nature and outcomes

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Bell, Michelle A.
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University of Guelph

The purpose of this study was to examine qualitative aspects of shared book reading interactions between kindergarten children who are just beginning to read and their parents. Specifically, the study investigated characteristics of the book reading interactions and how they relate to specific child characteristics such as literacy skill and interest in reading. Seventy parents were audiotaped and observed in their homes during shared reading interactions with their children and were interviewed about reading books with their children. Parental behavior in response to miscues and parental verbalizations during the interaction were coded. The children were also administered a variety of literacy, cognitive, language, and interest measures in kindergarten and grade one. Parents' expressed goals for the reading interactions were to develop their children's interest in reading and to develop their literacy competency. Parents provided a substantial amount of explicit instruction while reading books and the nature of their interaction was guided by the children's level of skill. Parents of children in the lowest reader group more often pointed to a picture in advance of the children reading the word. In contrast, for more skilled readers, parents were more likely to encourage their children to try to read the word again or supply the correct word. No differences according to reading ability were noted in parents use of graphophonemic cues, although they accounted for a large percentage of the responses, and parents ignored very few miscues made. Parents also made many comments during reading that focused on enhancing their children's interest in and comprehension for the reading material and they provided much positive feedback, although their use of these verbalizations was not related to the reading abilities of the children. Additionally, parental reports of frequency of shared reading activities in the home were not found to be significantly correlated with any of the literacy or parental behavior measures. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that parental coaching strategies made a significant contribution to the prediction of reading ability in kindergarten and grade one, even after controlling for child cognitive and language ability. Together, these results suggest that parents play a significant role in their children's developing reading skills.

Kindergarten, Reading, Shared books, Literacy skill, Parental behaviour