The Impact of Interactive Shared Book Reading on Children’s Language Skills: A Randomised Controlled Trial

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • External authors:
  • Caroline Rowland
  • Claire Noble
  • Andrew Jessop
  • Anna Coates
  • Hannah Sawyer
  • Rachel Taylor-Ims


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.

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.

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.

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.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Early online date24 Jun 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jun 2020