For Parents

For Parents

Research Round-Up

As we all spend more time at home, books can be a great way to pass the time. This week, we’re looking at research about shared-book reading!

Recent research out this week:

Preschoolers’ Word-Learning During Storybook Reading Interactions: Comparing Repeated and Elaborated Input

Reading storybooks aloud can be a great way for children to learn language, and the type of language adults should use while reading is a popular subject of research. In this study, preschoolers were read picture books with target vocabulary words said once, twice, or twice along with a simple definition. The researchers then presented children with two pictures, asked them to look for the target word, and measured how long it to look at the correct picture. They found that children looked at the correct object faster when the target word had been read twice, either with or without a simple definition. This suggests that repetition during reading may help preschool-aged children learn words efficiently, even if the reader does not define the words. This study only included typically developing children, and the authors note that elaborated definitions could potentially help older children. Further research is necessary to determine if simple input is effective for those with disabilities and for older children.

What does this mean?

  • Read books aloud while pointing to pictures of objects/actions described in the text.
  • Point out pictures of objects/actions shown on multiple pages to increase repetition of words.
  • Read the same book multiple times.

Previous summaries we’ve done on book reading:

Parent-Toddler Social Reciprocity During Reading From Electronic Tablets vs Print Books

Research has shown that young children learn better from TV shows and interactive apps when their parents engage with them while they are watching. However, there is some evidence that interactions during screen time may have lower social reciprocity (back and forth interactions) than other activities. The study invited parents to read to their child in the lab using tablet-based books and print books. The researchers found that parents and toddlers had lower social reciprocity with tablet-based books, compared to print books. More specifically, while reading a tablet-based book, toddlers and parents showed more controlling behaviors such as being turned away and pushing hands away. This suggests that social reciprocity may be challenging during tablet-based reading.

What does this mean?

  • When possible, use traditional print books instead of e-books.
  • When using e-books, encourage “back and forth” interactions. For example, take turns pointing to pictures, encourage your child to talk about what they see on the page (even if they’re just babbling!), and label pictures your child shows an interest in.
  • Don’t worry about pacing–if your child wants to turn the page before you’re finished reading every word, or wants to continue looking at a page after you’re finished reading, follow their lead.

Cues for word-learning during shared book-reading and guided play in preschool

These researchers studied a vocabulary intervention conducted with small groups of children during shared book reading and guided play time. They examined linguistic cues for teaching a new word such as hearing the word, defining the word, pointing to a picture of the word, and gesturing to show the word’s meaning. During book reading, the only cue significantly related to children’s vocabulary growth was hearing the new word in the text. During guided play, brief definitions related to the child’s focus were associated with vocabulary growth. In both contexts, responsive interactions were more beneficial than instructional talk for word learning. This study suggests that responsive, child-led interactions may be the most beneficial for preschooler’s word learning.

What does this mean?

  • Follow your child’s lead! Talk about pictures they’re interested in, read at their pace, and use more comments than questions.

Looking or talking: Visual attention and verbal engagement during shared book reading of preschool children on the autism spectrum

These researchers recorded parents and their preschool-aged children with autism reading a book while measuring a variety of parent and child behaviors. They found strong associations between how much children looked at the book and how much they talked. In addition, they found both of those child behaviors were impacted by parent’s use of engagement strategies such as asking questions and use of book vocabulary. They did not find any association between where children looked and their letter-name or vocabulary knowledge. Further research should investigate the long-term effects of children’s engagement during book-reading on literacy skills, and ways to facilitate increased engagement for children who are not attending to the book or their parent.

What does this mean?

  • Try using engagement cues such as labeling new vocabulary to help your child attend to the book