On Reading Books to Children: Parents and Teachers

On Reading Books to Children: Parents and Teachers

On Reading Books to Children: Parents and Teachers

On Reading Books to Children: Parents and Teachers

Synopsis

On Reading Books to Children: Parents and Teachers brings together in one volume current research on adult book reading to children. The authors, drawn from around the world, are key researchers and eminent scholars from the fields of reading and literacy, child language, speech pathology, and psychology, representing multiple perspectives within these disciplines. Chapters on the effects and limitations of book sharing are integrated with chapters discussing promising programs on storybook research. The reality of reading to children is more complex than it appears on the surface. The authors discuss some effects of and suggestions for reading to children that have emerged from the research. The ideas set forth in this volume will stimulate new lines of research on the effects of storybook reading, as well as refinements of current methods, yielding findings that enrich our understanding of this important arena of literacy development.

Excerpt

Divides between different groups of scholars seem to be common in literacy scholarship. The research on book sharing—a seemingly innocuous practice—is no exception. On the one hand, it is easy to presume that “everyone” knows how important it is to read to young preschool and school-aged children. Parents, or at least middle-class parents, seem to know: Adams (1990) suggests that her son received over 1,000 hours of exposure to print and stories prior to first grade. Teachers seem to know, and have been heard to tell parents that their failure to read to their child is a reason for the child's failure to learn to read. Policymakers also know the importance of storybook reading: as Teale (this volume) notes, the major literacy policy document of the 1980s, Becoming a Nation of Readers, concluded that “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children” (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, 6k Wilkinson, 1985, p. 23).

While it may seem that book sharing is a panacea for reading difficulties and illiteracy, this conclusion has lately been called into question. Family book sharing with young preliterate and early literate children is by no means a universal practice across cultural, linguistic, and social lines. Where it is practiced, it may be negotiated in a variety of ways, many of which are quite different from those favored in middle-class White families. As such, interventions based on research among middle-class White families may be inappropriate, and hence less . . .

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