Interactive Book Reading in Early Education: A Tool to Stimulate Print Knowledge as Well as Oral Language

Jun. 24, 2009

Source: Review of Educational Research. Vol. 79, Iss. 2; p. 979-1007. (June 2009)
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This meta-analysis examines to what extent interactive storybook reading stimulates two pillars of learning to read: vocabulary and print knowledge. The authors quantitatively reviewed 31 (quasi) experiments (n = 2,049 children) in which educators were trained to encourage children to be actively involved before, during, and after joint book reading.

Research Questions

The authors addressed the following research questions:
1 . Does trained interactive teacher behavior as a part of book reading improve young children's language and print-related skills, or does this behavior not add anything to the effects of joint book reading?
2. Are effect sizes of interactive reading as great for print knowledge as oral language?
3. Which conditions benefit the efficacy of an interactive reading intervention in the classroom?

First, are interventions carried out by experimenters more effective than those implemented by teachers?
Second, is reading in small groups more effective than whole-group reading or individual sessions?
Third, is there support for the assumption that extra opportunities to use book vocabulary during play, art, or drama activities add to the effects of book reading, as Karweit and Wasik (1996) suggest?
Fourth, are at-risk groups especially susceptible to interactive reading interventions, taking into account that they receive fewer incentives at home (Raikes et al., 2006)?

A moderate effect size was found for oral language skills, implying that both quality of book reading in classrooms and frequency are important. Although teaching print-related skills is not part of interactive reading programs, 7% of the variance in kindergarten children's alphabetic knowledge could be attributed to the intervention. The study also shows that findings with experimenters were simply not replicable in a natural classroom setting. Further research is needed to disentangle the processes that explain the effects of interactive reading on children's print knowledge and the strategies that may help transfer intervention effects from researchers to children's own teachers.

Karweit, N., & Wasik, B. A. (1996). The effects of story reading programs on literacy and language development of disadvantaged preschoolers. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 1, 3 19-348.
Raikes, H., Pan, B. A., Luze, G, Tamis-LeMonde, C. S., Brooks-Gunn, J., Banks Tarullo, L., et al. (2006). Mother-child bookreading in low-income families: Correlates and outcomes during the first three years of life. CAiW Development, 6, 193-235.

Updated: Jul. 02, 2009