The impact of interactive shared book reading on children's language skills: A randomized controlled trial

Noble, C., Cameron-Faulkner, T., Jessop, A., Coates, A., Sawyer, H., Taylor-Ims, R., & Rowland, C. F. (2020). The impact of interactive shared book reading on children's language skills: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 63(6), 1878-1897. doi:10.1044/2020_JSLHR-19-00288.
Purpose: Research has indicated that interactive shared
book reading can support a wide range of early language
skills and that children who are read to regularly in the early
years learn language faster, enter school with a larger
vocabulary, and become more successful readers at school.
Despite the large volume of research suggesting interactive
shared reading is beneficial for language development, two
fundamental issues remain outstanding: whether shared
book reading interventions are equally effective (a) for children
from all socioeconomic backgrounds and (b) for a range of
language skills.
Method: To address these issues, we conducted a
randomized controlled trial to investigate the effects of two
6-week interactive shared reading interventions on a
range of language skills in children across the socioeconomic
spectrum. One hundred and fifty children aged between
2;6 and 3;0 (years;months) were randomly assigned to one

of three conditions: a pause reading, a dialogic reading, or
an active shared reading control condition.
Results: The findings indicated that the interventions were
effective at changing caregiver reading behaviors. However,
the interventions did not boost children’s language skills
over and above the effect of an active reading control
condition. There were also no effects of socioeconomic status.
Conclusion: This randomized controlled trial showed
that caregivers from all socioeconomic backgrounds
successfully adopted an interactive shared reading style.
However, while the interventions were effective at increasing
caregivers’ use of interactive shared book reading behaviors,
this did not have a significant impact on the children’s
language skills. The findings are discussed in terms of
practical implications and future research.
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