Academic journal article Journal of Research in Childhood Education

A Preliminary Investigation of the Relationship between Parenting, Parent-Child Shared Reading Practices, and Child Development in Low-Income Families

Academic journal article Journal of Research in Childhood Education

A Preliminary Investigation of the Relationship between Parenting, Parent-Child Shared Reading Practices, and Child Development in Low-Income Families

Article excerpt

This study examined relations between parenting, shared reading practices, and child development. Participants included 28 children (M = 24.66 months, SD = 8.41 months) and their parents. Measures included naturalistic observations of parenting and shared reading quality, assessments of child cognitive and language development, and home reading practices. Higher quality parenting was found to be significantly, positively correlated with higher quality shared reading interactions. Of the specific domains of parenting behaviors assessed, teaching behaviors demonstrated the strongest relationship with shared reading quality. Parental self-report of reading frequency was not correlated with observed shared reading quality. Shared reading quality was predictive of children's receptive language outcomes; the addition of shared reading frequency did not improve prediction. Early childhood educators can benefit from knowing the potential importance of specific parenting practices and high-quality parent-child shared reading interactions in facilitating children's language development.

Keywords: parent-child caregiver relationships, reading, language development, beginning reading


This study investigates the associations between parent-child relationships, shared-book reading quality, and child development outcomes. Trying to develop a more thorough understanding of factors like parenting and how they are associated with shared-book reading is important because shared-book reading is an indicator of the home literacy environment (HLE) and is associated with language and early literacy development. Children's early literacy skills in preschool are associated with later reading ability, which is further associated with academic outcomes (e.g., Adams, 1990; Lonigan, Burgess, & Anthony, 2000; Torgeson, 2002). Most research on emergent literacy focuses on children of preschool age and older; however, it is earlier in development when children build a foundation of knowledge upon which later reading skills will be further developed and refined. During this period, quality parenting is paramount, as early experiences with spoken and written language become increasingly important in fostering children's early reading skills. For these reasons, further research is necessary to examine the influence of variations in parenting on shared reading and child development outcomes during early childhood prior to the preschool years, an area with little research up to this point.

Emergent Literacy

Emergent literacy refers to the process of acquiring reading-related skills, which begins with the infant's awareness of the meaning of language, understanding and recognizing symbols, preschool prereading, like naming and sounding letters, and ends with the proficient elementary school reader (Whitehurst & Lonigan, 1998). Although the process of learning to read for most children does not begin until formal schooling, most learn about the importance of reading in the home. An integral component of acquiring reading-related skills for infants is the process of language acquisition. Reading to an infant becomes a more meaningful interaction as an infant develops semantic knowledge of language. This interaction undergoes a qualitative shift as infants become capable of producing meaningful language. That is, as infants begin to combine words into multiple-word utterances after 18 months, shared reading truly begins to become "interactive." As infants grow older and further develop their knowledge of language, shared reading interactions become an opportunity for a multitude of learning experiences. It is at this time that the interactive dynamic of parent-infant shared reading helps to facilitate a multitude of processes critical to the development of emergent literacy.

Children who have poorly developed literacy skills have a very difficult time catching up to their peers. On average, a child who has low emergent literacy skills when he or she enters kindergarten has an 84% chance of being a poor reader with poor comprehension by 3rd grade. …

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