Book Language

The picture shows our research group enjoying some shared reading time at Oxford’s Story Museum.

We know that shared reading matters. Study after study shows that children vary enormously in the amount of shared reading they experience in the pre-school years. In turn, this variation is associated with language and literacy development once they get to school. But why is shared reading so important?


I’ve written a feature for the Times Education Supplement, The secret language of the book and why shared reading matters more than you think.  Here’s some links to background papers and resources.

Book Share Time, a fantastic resource by speech pathologist Ceclie Ferreira to help choose picture books to exemplify specific types of language

Bus, A.G., Ijzendoorn, & Pellegrini, A. D. (1995). Joint book reading makes for success in learning to read.  A meta-analyses on intergenerational transmission of literacy.  Review of Education Research, 65, 1-21.

Cameron-Faulkner, T., & Noble, C. (2013). A comparison of book text and Child Directed Speech. First Language, 33, 268–279.

Flack, Z., Field, A. & Horst, J. (2017) The effects of shared storybook reading on word learning: a meta-analysis. Developmental Psychology. ISSN 0012-1649.

Hayes, D. P. (1988). Speaking and writing: Distinct patterns of world choice. Journal of Memory and Language, 27, 572–585.

Horst, J. S., Parsons, K. L. & Bryan, N. M. (2011). Get the Story Straight: Context Repetition Promotes Word Learning From Storybooks. Fromtiers in Developmental Psychology, 2(17), 1-11.

Law, J. Rush, R. King, T. Westrupp & Reily, S. (online early). Early home activities and oral language skills in middle childhood: A quantile analysis. Child Development.

Lingwood, J., Billington, J., & Rowland, C. (pre-print). Evaluating the effectiveness of a shared reading intervention: a randomised control trial.

Mol, S. E., et al. (2008). Added value of dialogic Parent–Child book readings: a meta-analysis. Early Education and Development, 19, 7-26.

Montag, J. L., et al. (2105). The words children hear: picture books and the statistics for language learning. Psychological Science 26, 1489-1496.

Montag, J. L. & MacDonald, M. C. (2015). Text exposure predicts spoken production of complex sentences in 8-and 12-year-old children and adults. Journal of Experimental Psychology-General 144, 447-468.

Noble, C.H., Cameron-Faulkner, T., & Lieven, E. (2017). Keeping it simple: the grammatical properties of shared book reading. Journal of Child Language (online early).

Neuman, S.B. (2017). The information book flood: Is additional exposure enough to support literacy development? The Elementary School Journal, 118.

Olson, D.R. (1996). Towards a psychology of literacy: on the relations between speech and writing. Cognition, 60, 83-104.

Sedivy, J. (2017). The rise and fall of the English Sentence.  Nautilus, November 2017.

Snow, C.E. (1983). Literacy and Language: Relationships during the preschool years. Harvard Educational Review, 53, 2.

van Bergen, E., van Zuijen, T.L., Bishop, D.V.M., & de Jong, P.F. (2017). Why are home-literacy environment and children’s reading skills associated? What parental skills reveal. Reading Research Quarterly, 52(2), 147-160.

van Bergen, E., Bishop, D.V.M., van Zuijen, T.L., & de Jong, P.F. (2015). How does parental reading influence children’s reading? A study of cognitive mediation. Scientific Studies of Reading, 19(5), 325-339.

Willingham, D. (2018). What does it mean when a book flood fails? February 2018.

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