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Shared book reading and preschool children's academic achievement: Evidence from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Birth cohort

Abstract

This paper examines the relationships among the quality and quantity of parent–child shared book reading (SBR) engagements and children's reading and mathematics outcomes in preschool. Additionally, we explore how child and family characteristics predict the quality and quantity of SBR. Quantity was measured using parental reports of the frequency of SBR. Quality was measured by observational protocols evaluating for questioning, vocabulary, and discussion depth. A structural equation model was estimated using data from a nationally representative sample of 700 children living in the United States from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Birth cohort. Results indicated that the quality of book reading was associated with children's mathematics outcomes, and the quantity was associated with reading outcomes controlling for contextual variables. Socioeconomic status, race or ethnicity, and children's age predicted the quality and quantity of book reading experiences. These findings indicate that frequent exposure to high‐quality book reading may positively impact children's mathematics and reading development, but that variation in SBR exists. SBR is a common practice among many parents; helping parents understand the multiple benefits of the practice may further increase the frequency and quality of the engagement. Implications for research and practice are addressed.

Highlights

  • This paper describes the relationship between parental book reading practices, mathematics, and reading outcomes.
  • Structural equation models reveal relationships between the quantity of book reading and children's reading outcomes, as well as the quality of book reading and children's mathematics outcomes.
  • High‐quality book reading may positively impact academic achievement in multiple domains, but results may vary based on contextual factors.

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