Shared Book Practice in Long Day – The importance of Quality and Engagement for All Children

Year: 2019

Author: Adam, Helen, Barratt-Pugh, Caroline

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Research has consistently established the positive impact of sharing books on the literacy and learning of young children. Frequent book sharing and reading opportunities have a significant impact on children’s long term educational gains through contributing to the development of important literacy skills, including children’s oral language development and early reading skills, as well as impacting on their future reading proficiency. In addition, and supported by the attention given to early literacy in the Early Years Learning Framework, literacy is essential to successful engagement and participation in society. Thus, book sharing as a contributor to these literacy skills plays an important role in enabling children to reach their potential.

Other research asserts that while the timing and frequency of shared reading is important, the quality of the educator practice in these experiences may be even more so. Research also demonstrates that to ensure book sharing improves outcomes for children, educators need to go beyond the reading of the text and stimulate “rich, literal and inferential extra textual conversations” (Zucker at al., 2010).

This paper reports on a larger study which investigated the factors and relationships influencing the use of children’s literature to support principles relating to cultural diversity in the kindergarten rooms of long day care centres.

This study was conducted within an ontological perspective of constructivism and an epistemological perspective of interpretivism, informed by sociocultural theory. A mixed methods approach was adopted and convergent design was employed to synthesise the qualitative and quantitative data and interpret significant relationships and their meanings. Twenty four educators and 110 children from four long day care centres in Western Australia participated. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews, video-based observations, field notes, document analysis and a book audit.

Analysis of 148 video-recorded book sharing sessions suggest that the practice of book sharing varies considerably in both quality and quantity among kindergartens in child care settings with implications for the outcomes of all children. In particular, children from disadvantaged backgrounds are at risk of not achieving the well-known benefits of book sharing due to an absence of quality educator practice and opportunities for positive engagement in book sharing.

These findings have implications for all children and early childhood educators as well as policy makers, early childhood organisations, and those who provide higher education and training for early childhood educators.