Parent, child shared reading of children’s literature to connect and improve wellbeing

Year: 2018

Author: O'Brien, Siobhan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Children’s literature is a powerful tool to enhance wellbeing, that is understanding and enactment of emotions, relationships, meaning, engagement and accomplishment (Rosenblatt 1994, 1995).  This presentation explores the use of children’s literature to enhance wellbeing through an optimised home reading program called The Reading WELL [Wellbeing in Everyday Language and Literature]. The Reading WELL utilises the existing home reading routines of a class or school, enhanced through the use of developmental bibliotherapy to connect 8-9 year-old children and their parent/carers through reviewed children’s books around themes of resilience, body image and self-esteem, to enhance wellbeing (Catalano, 2008 and Halstead, 2009). 
The Reading WELL is informed by the theoretical background initiated by the World Health Organisation, Health Promoting Schools Framework (HPS), which suggests that parent involvement through community engagement is a useful strategy to enhance children’s wellbeing (Parliament of Victoria Education and Training Committee, 2010). However, a great deal of evidence also shows that parents are notoriously difficult to involve in health/school partnership where the programs require parent participation or presence at school during school hours (Emerson, Fear, Fox & Sanders, 2012). The Reading WELL will act as a specific intervention at the primary level and considers parent involvement and impact on development.
The presentation shares the design of the program, implemented in four low SES primary schools in Melbourne’s West in 2018. The project will use a quasi-experimental design as mixed method inform the data collection (Scher, Kisker and Dynarski, 2015). This includes pre and post questionnaires for parents and children, semi structured interviews with randomly selected parents and all participating teachers. Children will take home one book per week from the Reading WELL (reading around 10 books). They will complete a weekly Reading WELL journal entry which uses specifically designed questions and an extension activity completed by the parent and child. A Reading WELL Facebook page and website with recordings to support the home reading practice will also be made available to participants.
The project intends to evaluate the effectiveness of The Reading WELL optimized home reading program through establishing if it can support children with increasing healthy attitudes and wellbeing using resilience, body image, self-esteem measures. Determine whether there are any improvements literacy in terms of reading levels among the children completing the Reading WELL program attained through pre and post school-based diagnostic and formative assessments. 
Wellbeing, literacy, self-esteem, body image and resilience