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Journal Article

Evaluating the effectiveness of a ‘real‐world’ shared reading intervention for preschool children and their families: A randomised controlled trial


Rowland,  Caroline F.
Language Development Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
University of Liverpool;
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, External Organizations;

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Lingwood, J., Billington, J., & Rowland, C. F. (2020). Evaluating the effectiveness of a ‘real‐world’ shared reading intervention for preschool children and their families: A randomised controlled trial. Journal of Research in Reading, 43(3), 249-271. doi:10.1111/1467-9817.12301.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-4B34-C
Background: Shared reading interventions can impact positively on preschool children’s
language development and on their caregiver’s attitudes/behaviours towards
reading. However, a number of barriers may discourage families from engaging with
these interventions, particularly families from lower socio-economic status (SES)
backgrounds. We investigated how families from such backgrounds responded to an
intervention designed explicitly to overcome these barriers.
Methods: In a preregistered cluster randomised controlled trial, 85 lower SES families
and their 3-year-old to 4-year-old children from 10 different preschools were randomly
allocated to take part in The Reader’s Shared Reading programme
(intervention) or an existing ‘Story Time’ group at a library (control) once a week
for 8 weeks. Three outcome measures were assessed at baseline and post intervention:
(1) attendance, (2) enjoyment of the reading groups and (3) caregivers’ knowledge of,
attitudes and behaviours towards reading. A fourth children’s vocabulary – was
assessed at baseline and 4 weeks post intervention.
Results: Families were significantly more likely to attend the intervention group and
rated it more favourably, compared with the control group. However, there were no
significant effects on caregivers’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviours or on children’s
Conclusion: The intervention was only successful in engaging families from disadvantaged
backgrounds in shared reading. Implications for the use, duration and intensity
of shared reading interventions are discussed.