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Reading aloud to children: The evidence

Authors:

Abstract

Reading aloud to young children, particularly in an engaging manner, promotes emergent literacy and language development and supports the relationship between child and parent. In addition it can promote a love for reading which is even more important than improving specific literacy skills.21 When parents hold positive attitudes towards reading, they are more likely to create opportunities for their children that promote positive attitudes towards literacy and they can help children develop solid language and literacy skills. When parents share books with children, they also can promote children's understanding of the world, their social skills and their ability to learning coping strategies. When this message is supported by child health professionals during well child care and parents are given the tool, in this case a book, to be successful, the impact can be even greater. This effect may be more important among high risk children in low income families, who have parents with little education, belong to a minority group and do not speak English since they are less likely to be exposed to frequent and interactive shared reading.
Reading aloud to children: the
evidence
E Duursma,
1
M Augustyn,
2
B Zuckerman
2
Promoting healthy child development lies
at the heart of paediatric practice, yet a
major challenge facing the field is applying
evidence based standards. However, the
evidence is clear as regards reading aloud to
children. Ample research demonstrates that
reading aloud to young children promotes
the development of language and other
emergent literacy skills,
1–4
which in turn
help children prepare for school.
35
READING ALOUD AND CHILDREN’S
EMERGENT LITERACY AND LANGUAGE
SKILLS
Reading aloud to children or shared book-
reading has been linked to young chil-
dren’s emergent literacy ability, which
can be defined as the skills or knowledge
that children develop before learning the
more conventional skills of reading and
writing
6–8
which affect children’s later
success in reading.
9
During shared bookreading, children
learn to recognise letters, understand that
print represents the spoken word, and
learn how to hold a book, turn the page
and start at the beginning.
10–12
Shared
bookreading is also associated with learn-
ing print concepts
11
and exposing children
to the written language register, which is
different from spoken language,
13
as well
as story structures (eg, stories have a
beginning, middle and end) and literacy
conventions such as syntax and grammar
which are essential for understanding
texts.
14
These emergent literacy skills are
important for later success in reading.
215
PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS AND
ALPHABET KNOWLEDGE
Phonological awareness (the ability to
manipulate the sounds of spoken lan-
guage
1 16–18
) is another important prere-
quisite for learning to read. To read
words, children need to know the rules
for translating print into meaningful
sounds.
816
For example, preschoolers’ sen-
sitivity to alliteration and rhyme at age 4–
5 contributed to progress in reading and
spelling at age 6–7.
19
Children’s knowl-
edge of nursery rhymes at age 3–4 is
related to detecting alliteration and rhyme
at ages 4–7.
20
Many parents naturally
promote awareness of sound patterns by
emphasising rhyming words and patterns
when reading to a child.
21
When children
do well at detecting and manipulating
syllables, rhymes and phonemes, they
tend to learn more quickly to read.
15 19 22
Children acquire sensitivity to different
sounds in a specific order, although stages
tend to overlap.
23
Children can learn about
phonemes or sounds more or less infor-
mally by learning to name letters and by
recognising which phoneme is critical in
the name.
24
Many alphabet books, for
example, contain the letter name accom-
panied by pictures of objects whose names
begin with the critical sound, such as D,
for example a dog, deer or doctor. When
parents stress the initial sounds in these
words while reading with their children,
they are teaching awareness of initial
phonemes or shared phonemes across
words.
24 25
Since children who have diffi-
culty with phonological awareness can
develop reading difficulties,
126
parents
might help to prevent these difficulties
by exposing children to a wide variety of
literacy materials and helping them
become aware of the relationship between
letters and sounds.
In addition to being aware of sounds,
children also need to recognise the role
that alphabet letters play and that letters
have different sounds. It is easier to learn
these letter–sound relationships once chil-
dren know at least some alphabet letters
and are able to recognise words that start
with the same phoneme.
27
While shared
bookreading promotes children’s alphabet
knowledge,
10
most parents focus on the
meaning of the story and not the print.
28
Also, while knowing the names of letters
is not itself related to reading ability, it is
knowing the sound of letters (eg, the letter
‘b’ sounds like ‘ba’) that is important.
There are important differences in letter
knowledge between children from middle
class and lower class families. Four-year-old
children from middle class families knew
an average of 54% of the letter names and
5-year-old children knew 85% of the
letters.
29
However, 4- and 5-year-old chil-
dren from low-income families who enter
programs such as Head Start know on
average four letters and learn an additional
five while enrolled in the program.
24 30
Alphabet and counting books for young
children promote greater focus on the
print.
10
READING ALOUD AND LANGUAGE
DEVELOPMENT
Studies demonstrate a relationship be-
tween oral language skills such as vocabu-
lary, syntactic (the way in which ling-
uistic elements such as words are combined
to form sentences) and semantic (focus on
the meaning of words or sentences) pro-
cesses, and narrative discourse processes
such as memory, storytelling and compre-
hension,
9
and reading ability.
31
All of these
contribute to word recognition and reading
comprehension.
32 33
Children’s oral language skills can be
stimulated by parent–child literacy activ-
ities such as shared bookreading.
34
Children learn the meaning of new words
during bookreading interactions with
their parents.
35
Reading aloud familiarises
children with the language found in
books
36
and stimulates vocabulary
growth.
37 38
Books contain many words,
especially the more sophisticated words
that children are unlikely to encounter
frequently in spoken language.
39
Children’s books contain 50% more rare
words than prime-time television or even
college students’ conversations.
40
Shared
bookreading can stimulate more verbal
interaction between child and parent, and
therefore children’s language development
is likely to profit more from reading aloud
than from toy play or other adult–child
interactions.
12 41
In addition to new voca-
bulary, children are exposed to the more
complex language adults use interacting
with children around a book.
11 42 43
Children with greater vocabulary
knowledge and understanding of spoken
language tend to have less trouble with
reading.
631
Large social class differences
have been reported in children’s exposure
to oral language and their vocabularies.
Hart and Risley reported that at age 3,
children in professional families heard an
average of 2153 words per hour, while
children in working class families heard
1251 words per hour and children in
welfare families heard only 616 words
per hour.
44
This led to enormous differ-
ences in children’s vocabularies. At age 3,
1
Reach Out and Read National Center, Boston, MA,
USA;
2
Department of Pediatrics, Boston University
School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
Correspondence to: Barry Zuckerman, Department of
Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine, One
Boston Medical Center Place, Dowling 3 South, Boston,
MA 02118, USA; barry.zuckerman@bmc.org
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children in professional families had an
observed cumulative vocabulary of 1100
words, while children in working class
families had an observed vocabulary of
750 words and those in welfare families of
just above 500 words. In professional
families, parents not only talked more
but also used more different words and
provided a greater richness of nouns,
modifiers and verbs. Parents spent a lot
of time and effort asking their children
questions, affirming and expanding their
responses and encouraging their children
to listen and notice how words relate and
refer in order to prepare their children for
a culture focusing on ‘‘symbols and
analytic problem solving’’ (see Hart and
Risley,
44
p 133). On the other hand,
parents on welfare spent less time talking
while they more frequently initiated
topics and used more imperatives and
prohibitions. These parents were more
concerned with established customs such
as obedience, politeness and conformity.
Working-class families showed a mixture
of the two cultures using imperatives and
prohibitives while using rich language to
label, relate and discuss objects.
44
Shared bookreading provides children
with opportunities to learn vocabulary
from books as well as the use of decon-
texualised language (the use of language
to communicate new information to
those who have little experience with
the context of the information).
45 46
Since
this task involves cognitive and linguistic
demands, it tends to be more challenging
for children.
5
The positive effects of
having been read to from an early age
continue to be observable in the elemen-
tary school years.
312
The age at which
parents begin reading to their children is
correlated with children’s language devel-
opment; children who are read to from an
early age tend to have higher scores on
language measures later on.
47 48
READING ALOUD AS A SHARED
EXPERIENCE
An added dimension of reading aloud is
that it involves parents and other impor-
tant adults to the child in a focused
interaction. Early parent–child relation-
ships influence children’s engagement in
literacy activities. Mothers with securely
attached children tend to more frequently
provide a rich and interactive way of
reading to their children than mothers of
insecurely attached children.
10 49–51
Children not only acquire knowledge
about narratives but also learn about their
own personal narrative when sharing a
book with an adult, something that is
important for their self-esteem.
Bookreading can play an important role
in wake and sleep patterns by making
bookreading part of bedtime routines.
Sharing books with children can also help
them learn about peer relationships, cop-
ing strategies, building self-esteem and
general world knowledge.
Reading aloud likely promotes joint
attention, which has many potential
benefits related to reading,
52
such as
enhancing receptive language by asking
children to point, touch or show during
bookreading or expressive language by
asking children questions about the text.
5
FACTORS INFLUENCING QUANTITY AND
STYLE OF SHARED BOOKREADING
Similar to child health problems, certain
‘‘risk’’ factors such as socioeconomic
status, race/ethnicity and parental educa-
tion can affect children’s development of
emergent literacy and oral language skills.
The National Center for Education
Statistics (NCES), for example, found
that children in families with incomes
below the poverty threshold are less likely
to show signs of emergent literacy skills
such as pretending to read and write.
53
A
total of 28% of children aged 3–5 years
who were not living in poverty were able
to recognise all the letters of the alphabet,
while only 10% of children living in
poverty were able to do so. In addition,
45% of children not living in poverty
showed three or more signs of emerging
literacy, while only 19% of children living
in poverty did so.
53
Associated with these lower levels of
emergent literacy skills is less exposure to
bookreading and print. Children from low-
income families often participate less fre-
quently in shared bookreading than chil-
dren from higher socioeconomic groups.
54 55
According to the Federal Interagency Forum
on Child and Family Statistics, 64% of
families whose incomes were at or above
the poverty level read to their preschoolers
on a daily basis compared to 48% of families
below the poverty level.
56
Children in low-income families often
have less access to printed materials in the
home,
54
which likely impairs children’s
early language and literacy development
and later reading achievement.
48
The 2007
Nation’s Report Card on reading showed
that children from low-income families
had lower reading scores in grade 4 and
grade 8 than their peers from middle class
families.
57
When children are poor readers
at the end of first grade the probability
that they will remain poor readers by the
end of fourth grade has been reported to
be as high as 0.88.
58
The National Research Council’s
Committee on the Prevention of Reading
Difficulties in Young Children stated that
most reading difficulties can be prevented
by ensuring that all children, in particular
those at risk for reading difficulties, have
access to early childhood environments
that promote language and literacy devel-
opment and encourage those skills needed
to learn to read.
3
It is essential to start
promoting those skills needed to prepare
for school early on by, for example, having
parents read to their children.
3
Low-income parents often have lower
levels of education. The link between
maternal education and frequency of
shared bookreading is well documented.
Mothers with higher levels of education
are more likely to read frequently to their
children than mothers with lower levels
of education.
59 60
In addition to social
economic status (SES) which is based on
family income, education and occupation,
other factors such as race/ethnicity and
language spoken at home play a role in
parental bookreading practices. Hispanic
non-English speaking mothers are less
likely to read to their children compared
to white, African-American or Hispanic
English-speaking mothers.
61 62
QUALITY OR STYLE OF SHARED
BOOKREADING
It is important for parents to keep
children’s personal interests and motives
in mind when trying to get children
interested in books.
63 64
When children’s
encounters with literacy are pleasant,
they are more likely to develop a positive
disposition towards reading frequently
and broadly.
63
Children who experience
shared reading from an early age tend to
be more interested in reading at age 4 and
5 than children who receive shared book-
reading when they are older.
63
It is not only the reading itself that is
important the type of conversations adults
and children have during shared bookread-
ing, as well as the emotional quality of the
interactions and the discussions related to
print are even more important.
65
It is not
sufficient to simply read a text aloud in order
to encourage children to learn from being
read to. When parents are supportive when
interacting with their children around
books, this affects how children engage with
books.
66
The style of reading, more than the
frequency, impacts children’s early lan-
guage and literacy development.
67
White
middle class parents tend to use a more
interactive style when reading to their
children. Working class non-white par-
ents, on the other hand, tend to focus
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more on labelling and describing pictures
during bookreading.
68 69
These differences
in reading styles can impact children’s
development of language and literacy-
related skills.
Two parental styles of reading were
identified as having beneficial effects on
child vocabulary and print skills: the
describer style and the performance-
oriented style. A describer style focuses on
describing the pictures during reading and a
performance-oriented style focuses on dis-
cussing the meaning of the story after
completion.
70
Children with initial lower
levels of vocabulary profited more from the
describer style, while children with higher
initial vocabulary levels profited most from
the performance-oriented style.
70
Whitehurst et al developed an interven-
tion program called dialogic reading to
promote children’s language develop-
ment.
38 71
Adults are taught specific tech-
niques that can be used during shared
bookreading. These techniques focus on
asking questions, providing feedback and
letting the child become the narrator of
the story.
38 71
Children whose parents
received training in dialogic reading had
significantly better expressive language
skills, used longer and more utterances,
and had lower frequency of single words
than children whose parents did not use
dialogic reading. These differences
between the groups remained even
9 months after the training.
38
One of the most powerful pieces of
shared reading is what happens in the
pauses between pages and after the book
is closed. The use of ‘‘decontextualised’’ or
non-immediate talk and active engage-
ment has proven to be particularly bene-
ficial for children’s language
enhancement.
70 72–74
Non-immediate talk
is talk that goes beyond the information
in the text or the illustrations, for
example, to make connections to the
child’s past experiences or to the real
world (eg, ‘‘you like ice cream’’), or to
offer explanations (eg, ‘‘he cried because
he was sad’’), including explanations of
word meanings (eg, ‘‘a piglet is a baby
pig’’). Mothers’ use of non-immediate talk
while reading to their preschoolers was
related to children’s later performance on
measures of vocabulary, story comprehen-
sion, definitions and emergent literacy.
73
Engaging in book discussions that include
non-immediate talk gives children the
opportunity to understand and use the
more sophisticated words required to
make predictions, to describe the internal
states of the characters and to evaluate
the story.
73
It also provides the opportu-
nity for children to learn to talk about
their own feelings. Children’s early lan-
guage and literacy development benefits
more from actively engaging the child
during shared bookreading than by simply
reading the text.
70 75
A CHALLENGE FOR PAEDIATRIC
CLINICIANS
What are the implications of the impor-
tance of parents reading aloud to their
children’s development for child health
clinicians? ‘‘Reach Out and Read (ROR)’’,
founded at Boston City Hospital in 1989,
promotes early childhood development by
promoting reading aloud. In response to
the small percentage of low-income parents
reading to their children, ROR was created
to involve child health clinicians by having
them give new books to children and advice
to parents about the importance of reading
aloud as part of well child care. In an early
study among inner city parents receiving
ROR, researchers found that parents who
had been given a children’s book during a
previous visit were four times more likely
to report looking at books with their
children or that looking at books was a
favourite activity.
76
Among Spanish-speak-
ing immigrant families, those who had
been exposed to ROR reported a doubling
in the rate of frequent book sharing,
defined as reading aloud 3 or more days
per week.
77
In the largest study to date of
this program, in a national sample (multi-
site evidence from 19 clinical sites in 10
states) of parents of children age 6–
72 months, implementation of ROR pro-
grams was associated with increased par-
ental support for reading aloud.
78
Most
importantly, two studies show increased
language development.
79 80
Health practitioners who do not have
access to ROR can help families by asking
them about bookreading in the family, and
by telling parents about the benefits and joy
of sharing a book with their child. In
addition, they can demonstrate ways of
reading that are particularly beneficial to
young children (eg, connecting the book
with the child’s world, making predictions).
SUMMARY
Reading aloud to young children, particu-
larly in an engaging manner, promotes
emergent literacy and language develop-
ment and supports the relationship
between child and parent. In addition it
can promote a love for reading which is
even more important than improving
specific literacy skills.
81
When parents
hold positive attitudes towards reading,
they are more likely to create opportu-
nities for their children that promote
positive attitudes towards literacy
82
and
they can help children develop solid
language and literacy skills. When parents
share books with children, they also can
promote children’s understanding of the
world, their social skills and their ability
to learning coping strategies. When this
message is supported by child health
professionals during well child care and
parents are given the tool, in this case a
book, to be successful, the impact can be
even greater. This effect may be more
important among high risk children in
low income families, who have parents
with little education, belong to a minority
group and do not speak English since they
are less likely to be exposed to frequent
and interactive shared reading.
Competing interests: All authors are paid consultants
to Reach Out and Read.
Accepted 25 February 2008
Published Online First 13 May 2008
Arch Dis Child 2008;93:554–557.
doi:10.1136/adc.2006.106336
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Leading article
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... Unsurprisingly, paediatricians and educational experts regard SBR as a highly beneficial practice, and books, blogs, and newspaper articles on parenting systematically encourage this practice (Bus et al., 1995). The benefits of this activity for language and cognitive development are widely acknowledged (Duursma et al., 2008; Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 2012[OECD], , 2017Persampieri et al., 2006;Scarborough & Dobrich, 1994). ...
... Several studies published throughout the 1980s and 1990s documented the beneficial effects of these interventions on SBR frequency and children's skills, as well as the positive reception from parents and children (High et al., 1998;Mendelsohn et al., 2001;Needlman et al., 2005). This conclusion was reinforced by some influential systematic reviews and meta-analyses of these studies (Bus et al., 1995;Dickinson et al., 2012;Duursma et al., 2008;Marulis & Neuman, 2010;Moore & Wade, 2003). At the same time, some of these analyses pointed out that children from disadvantaged families benefit less from SBR interventions (Marulis & Neuman, 2010;Mol et al., 2008). ...
... Storybooks are much richer in vocabulary than most competing activities at home. They involve a broad variety of semantic domains and mobilise multiple language registers which are often uncovered in daily conversations at home (Dickinson et al., 2012;Duursma et al., 2008). Hence, SBR is supposed to enrich both children's receptive and expressive vocabulary. ...
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Over the past 2 decades, a growing number of randomised controlled trials have assessed the impact on children’s language skills of interventions encouraging parents to read books to their offspring. We present the results of a meta-analysis of the impact of 30 such interventions. Results indicate that they are often ineffective, and that only one specific methodology (dialogic reading) displays systematically positive impacts. Moreover, effective interventions display weaker impacts on low-socioeconomic groups, thus raising equity issues. Our systematic analysis of the research designs of these studies points at three major weaknesses. First, only short-term outcomes are measured, and, even within such a narrow time window, we find indications that treatment impacts fade out. A second limitation concerns the limited range of outcomes measured (receptive or expressive vocabulary). Finally, these studies display low external validity (ad hoc sampling, small sample sizes, lack of multi-site experiments, scant evidence outside Anglo-Saxon countries).
... Book-sharing has larger effects on children's language development when parents (or teachers) stimulate a dialogue related to the content of the story than if the parent reads aloud and the child passively listens (Mol, Bus, de Jong, & Smeets, 2008;Duursma, Augustyn, & Zuckerman, 2008). Dialogic reading is a set of book-sharing techniques designed to encourage children to formulate and articulate their ideas about book content, eventually acting as narrators who re-tell stories and actively engage instead of passively listening to them (Whitehurst et al., 1988;Zevenbergen & Whitehurst, 2003). ...
... Dialogic reading programs have largely been implemented and evaluated in high-income countries, and have shown effects on emergent literacy skills and expressive vocabulary (Whitehurst et al., 1988;Zevenbergen & Whitehurst, 2003;Mol et al., 2008). Since the aim of dialogic reading is to stimulate a dialogue and not to read the text word-for-word (Duursma et al., 2008), these programs could be effective even in low-literacy populations. ...
... As noted by Duursma et al (2008), the use of '''decontextualized' or non-immediate talk and active engagement has proven to be particularly beneficial for children's language enhancement" (Reese and Cox, 1999;Beals et al., 1994;Zevenbergen and Whitehurst, 2003;cited in Duursma et al, 2008). Duursma defines non-immediate talk as "talk that goes beyond the information in the text or the illustrations, for example, to make connections to the child's past experiences or to the real world (e.g., ''you like ice cream''). ...
... Book reading on a daily basis inculcates the habit of establishing routines and contributes in shaping sleep wake patterns. 20 Maternal education played a significant role in determining the total score obtained and more specifically to the cognitive and social emotional development of toddlers. (p=0.009). ...
... Generations of children have been exposed to illustrated storybooks, with tales read aloud by the children's caregivers. To date, much research has been conducted showing a functional link between reading from storybooks and children's language comprehension and literacy development (e.g., Duursma, Augustyn, & Zuckerman, 2008;Isbell, Sobol, Lindauer, & Lowrance, 2004;Klein & Kogan, 2013). ...
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According to the tripartite model of text representation (van Dijk & Kintsch, 1983), readers form representations of the text surface and textbase, and construct a situation model. In this study, an experiment was conducted to investigate whether these levels of representation would be affected by adding illustrations to narrative text and whether the order of text and illustrations would make a difference. Students aged between 7 and 13 years ( N = 146) read 12 narrative texts, 4 of them with illustrations presented before their corresponding sentences, 4 with illustrations presented after, and 4 without any illustration. A sentence recognition task was used to assess the accuracy for text surface, textbase, and situation model. For the text surface and situation model, neither the presence of illustrations nor the order of text and illustrations influenced accuracy. However, the textbase was negatively affected by illustrations when they followed their corresponding sentences. We suggest that illustrations can initiate model inspection after situation model construction (Schnotz, 2014), a process that can make substantial changes to the textbase representation.
... Teachers were then asked to spend some time reading these to their classes, sharing language and promoting enjoyment of a novel. There has been no evaluation of the impact of this activity as used in LfL but there is some evidence pointing towards the benefits of shared book reading on young children's emergent literacy and language skills (Duursma, Augustyn, and Zuckerman 2008). The majority of strong studies on this topic focus on pre-school or early years-age children and on the role of parents in the book sharing/reading rather than its impact through school-based approaches. ...
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This paper presents an evaluation of “Literacy for Life” (LfL) – a whole-school literacy programme, implemented in five secondary schools in England. The aims of LfL were to improve literacy attainment and to promote positive attitudes to reading and writing. However, when compared to other schools, there is little or no evidence that being in a LfL school, had any differential benefit for pupils’ attainment. In LfL schools, the gap for disadvantaged pupils and those with SEN grew in the early years of the intervention. There is also no evidence from repeated surveys that pupils’ attitudes to and enjoyment of reading showed any improvement. As such, LfL did not achieve its intended objectives. This matters because, despite limited evidence in its favour, schools continue to use it and programmes similar to it. We argue that programmes such as LfL, which are implemented on a whole-school level, need to be based upon evidence-informed approaches.
... Now the institutional framework is the highly diverse set of childcare providers, including many centers that might explicitly focus on academic instruction, and especially language development, as one aspect of their work. An emerging hypothesis is that reading aloud to children, discussing the text and engaging children in games and play that promote oral language is critical at this stage to support the later emergence of reading comprehension (Duursma et al., 2008;Kendeou et al., 2009), particularly for low-income children. ...
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Le motivazioni di questo libro sono ambiziose: si vuole invitare a utilizzare la lettura ad alta voce come pratica didattica partendo da un'esperienza di rilievo nazionale che è, al contempo, un progetto e una ricerca; si vuole inoltre dare conto degli importan-ti esiti di una ricerca quasi sperimentale che ha raccolto dati rilevanti in ordine agli effetti cognitivi e di comprensione del testo dell'esposizione alla lettura. Una precisazione, per cominciare: qui si parla della lettura di narrativa, fatta in classe per i propri studenti, dall'insegnante, secondo un approccio e un metodo precisi. Altri approcci prediligono, per esempio, il contesto familiare (Aram et al., 2017; Curtis, Zhou, Tao, 2020; Schapira, Aram, 2019). Qui, invece, il metodo è improntato sulla funzione del sistema di istruzione, che è essenziale perché l'opportunità sia estesa a tutti e non contribuisca ad approfondire le differenze legate alla diversità delle pro-venienze socio-economico-culturali. Non si può ignorare, infatti, che la provenienza socio-economico-culturale condi-ziona, di fatto, anche in presenza di un'informazione adeguata sulla rilevanza della lettura, il modo e la continuità con cui si pratica la lettura ad alta voce nel contesto familiare (Chiu, McBride-Chang, 2006). Il metodo proposto poggia sul ruolo, decisivo, degli insegnanti-lettori, sul concetto di progressività dei tempi, sulla lunghezza e complessità dei testi e sulla varietà delle proposte, sull'attenzione posta alla libertà di espressione, commento e interpretazione di tutti i bambini e le bambine, le ragaz-ze e i ragazzi coinvolti. Il tutto con gli studenti al centro. Come ogni azione tesa, realmente, all'empower-ment dei soggetti coinvolti, gli studenti sono infatti punto di partenza e di arrivo di questo approccio: • sono il punto di partenza, perché si avvia l'esposizione alla lettura ad alta voce dai loro tempi di attenzione, dai loro gusti e da storie che rispondano ai loro bisogni; • sono il punto di arrivo, perché le pratiche di lettura ad alta voce in classe sono spazi di condivisione, di co-costruzione di significati, costituiscono materiale "vi-vo" per costruire e valorizzare, al tempo, la loro esperienza, la loro visione del mondo, il loro futuro. Le storie diventano così uno spazio di dialogo con i pari, uno spazio in cui la propria opinione, l'opinione di tutti, assume valore e dignità, nel quale non esiste la "risposta giusta" e tantomeno quella "sbagliata", ma i significati vengono negoziati (Langer, 1986; Tanner et al., 2017).
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The effects of a book reading technique called interactive book reading on the language and literacy development of 4-year-olds from low-income families were evaluated. Teachers read books to children and reinforced the vocabulary in the books by presenting concrete objects that represented the words and by providing children with multiple opportunities to use the book-related words. The teachers also were trained to ask open-ended questions and to engage children in conversations about the book and activities. This provided children with opportunities to use language and learn vocabulary in a meaningful context. Children who were in the interactive book reading intervention group scored significantly better than children in the comparison group on Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-M and other measures of receptive and expressive language. Book reading and related activities can promote the development of language and literacy skills in young children.
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Although research has identified oral language, print knowledge, and phonological sensitivity as important emergent literacy skills for the development of reading, few studies have examined the relations between these aspects of emergent literacy or between these skills during preschool and during later reading. This study examined the joint and unique predictive significance of emergent literacy skills for both later emergent literacy skills and reading in two samples of preschoolers. Ninety-six children (mean age = 41 months, SD = 9.41) were followed from early to late preschool, and 97 children (mean age = 60 months, SD = 5.41) were followed from late preschool to kindergarten or first grade. Structural equation modeling revealed significant developmental continuity of these skills, particularly for letter knowledge and phonological sensitivity from late preschool to early grade school, both of which were the only unique predictors of decoding.
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Children at older and younger age levels were administered a large battery of psychometric and experimental tests evaluating cognitive and linguistic abilities, world knowledge and specific skills that are believed to be important prerequisites for successful acquisition of reading subskills. Stepwise regression analyses were undertaken to evaluate determinants of performance on tests of reading comprehension, listening comprehension, word identification and pseudoword identification. Subject groups with different levels of achievement in oral reading were also compared on all measures. The results suggest that reading and listening comprehension recruit essentially the same cognitive and linguistic abilities and knowledge sources. However, reading comprehension in children with limited skill in oral reading was found to depend primarily on facility in word identification, while comprehension in more advanced readers was found to depend primarily on higher level cognitive and oral language abilities. The data also suggest that facility in both word identification and text comprehension are determined by many of the same basic oral language abilities, but given processes are weighted differently in each enterprise. For example, facility in word identification appears to depend more on phonologically based skills than on semantically based skills, while facility in text comprehension appears to depend more on semantically based skills than on phonologically based skills. It was concluded that written and spoken language are interactive and increasingly convergent systems rather than parallel systems and the implications of our findings for reading instruction were discussed.