Reading to infants benefits their school results

3 JUNE 2019

Reading to infants benefits their school results

Researchers at Charles Sturt University have found that daily parent-child book-reading with infants aged one to two years strengthens later literacy, language, and numeracy success.

  • Literacy difficulties are a public concern due to the long-term implications for quality of life, employment, and mental health
  • New research finds parents should be informed about the long-term academic benefits from parent-child book reading during infancy
  • This research has implications for parents, clinicians, researchers, and policy makers to support to parents to engage in high levels of parent-child book-reading daily

Researchers at Charles Sturt University (Charles Sturt) have found that daily parent-child book-reading with infants aged one to two years strengthens later literacy, language, and numeracy success.

Lead researcher and post-doctoral Research Fellow in the School of Teacher Education in Albury-Wodonga Dr Michelle Brown explained that literacy difficulties are a public concern due to the long-term implications for quality of life, employment, and mental health.

“Parent-child book reading with infants is widely recommended and considered one of the most effective parent-child activities for promoting language and literacy development,” Dr Brown said.

“However, until now there has been limited evidence that reading books with infants (aged one to two years) strengthens later literacy skills.

“The positive findings from our study suggest that parents should not only be informed about the long-term academic benefits to be gained from parent-child book reading during infancy, but they should be encouraged and provided with support to engage in high levels of parent-child book-reading daily.”

The study by Dr Brown and her Charles Sturt colleagues Dr Cen Wang and Professor Sharynne McLeod examined the long-term impact of parent-child book reading at one to two years with literacy, language, and numeracy skills at eight to 11 years.

Participants were 3,547 infants and their caregivers from a nationally representative study.

The number of minutes caregivers reported reading books with their infants (aged one to two years) were examined with literacy, language, and numeracy skills on a national assessment program (NAPLAN) in grades three (aged eight to nine years) and five (aged 10 to 11 years).

Small and positive relationships were found between parent-child book reading at one to two years and reading, spelling, grammar, and numeracy scores in grade three (aged eight to nine years) and reading, writing, spelling, and grammar scores in grade five (aged 10 to 11 years).

Numeracy outcomes in grade three (aged eight to nine years) and writing outcomes in grade five (ages 10 to 11 years) were also positively predicted from parent-child book reading at ages one to two years.

“This research has implications for parents, clinicians, researchers, and policy makers,” Dr Brown said.

“Given these positive findings, parents should be informed about the long-term academic benefits from parent-child book reading during infancy and provided with support to engage in high levels of parent-child book-reading daily to promote later literacy, language, and numeracy success.”

The research paper ‘Reading with babies impacts literacy, language and numeracy skills at eight to nine years’ by Dr Michelle Brown, Dr Cen Wang and Professor Sharynne McLeod will be presented by Dr Brown at the annual national Speech Pathology Australia Conference (2-5 June) in Brisbane on Wednesday 5 June 2019, and will be available via the SPA website as a podcast.


Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Dr Michelle Brown in the School of Teacher Education based in Albury-Wodonga contact Bruce Andrews at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0418 669 362 or via news@csu.edu.au

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