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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 7-13

Parental perspectives on shared reading practices at home


1 Department of Neurodevelopmental Sciences, National Institute of Speech and Hearing, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
2 Department of Audiology and Speech Language Pathology, National Institute of Speech and Hearing, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

Date of Submission31-Jan-2022
Date of Decision16-May-2022
Date of Acceptance19-May-2022
Date of Web Publication27-Jun-2022

Correspondence Address:
R Vrinda
Department of Neurodevelopmental Sciences, National Institute of Speech and Hearing, NISH Road, Sreekaryam P.O, Thiruvananthapuram - 695 017, Kerala
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jisha.jisha_3_22

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  Abstract 


Background: Shared book reading is the interaction that occurs between child and adult when they look at or read a book together and it facilitates the development of emergent literacy and language skills. In India, oral narration of stories was the tradition and shared book reading is not a culturally familiar routine. Shared reading practice among preschoolers in India is a less explored research area. Aim: The present study explores the parental perspectives and practices on shared reading at home and also its association with Socioeconomic status. Method: Forty -one parents of 3-5 years old typically developing children with Malayalam as native language participated in the study. The questionnaire on 'Parental Perspectives on Storybook Reading in Indian Home Contexts' was used to understand the parental perspectives on shared reading, and the “Modified Kuppuswamy Socioeconomic Scale” was used to understand the socioeconomic status of the family. Results: 73.1% of parents reported that they began reading to their children between 2 and 4 years of age, 43.9% read 3–5 times per week, and 58.5% had fewer than 10 books in the home. The parental attitude and beliefs about shared reading did not correlate with SES and child's age. Conclusion: Overall, the findings indicate that parents were aware of the benefits of storybook reading and were generally positive about it. The findings of this study provide preliminary information on the home literacy environment (HLE) in Kerala. Understanding more about the parental storybook reading practice will facilitate the development of parent programs to enhance and promote quality HLEs.

Keywords: Emergent literacy, parental perspectives, shared book reading, socioeconomic status


How to cite this article:
Vrinda R, Baiju A, Rajendran D. Parental perspectives on shared reading practices at home. J Indian Speech Language Hearing Assoc 2022;36:7-13

How to cite this URL:
Vrinda R, Baiju A, Rajendran D. Parental perspectives on shared reading practices at home. J Indian Speech Language Hearing Assoc [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 12];36:7-13. Available from: https://www.jisha.org/text.asp?2022/36/1/7/348429




  Introduction Top


Shared book reading is the act of “sharing or reading a book with your child”[1] or it refers to the interaction that takes place between a child and an adult when they look at or read a book together.[2] Shared book reading facilitates the development of emergent literacy and language skills. Emergent literacy has been defined as “the reading and writing behaviours of young children before they become readers and writers in the conventional sense.”[3] It includes phonological awareness, letter knowledge, vocabulary,[4],[5],[6] print awareness, and narrative skill. Research on emergent literacy has supported the fact that there exists a strong relationship between children's home literacy environment (HLE) and aspects of emergent literacy.

The HLE refers to the literacy resources and activities promoted by family members, as well as parents' attitudes and beliefs about literacy.[7] It is a diverse interactive experience that occurs across multiple contexts and is frequently considered a key component in emergent literacy acquisition.[8],[9] Home environments that provide a child with numerous opportunities to learn through interaction with adults and age-appropriate materials will result in positive reading outcomes.[10] The number of books at home, the age at which parent–child book reading was initiated, the frequency of trips to the library, and the frequency and enjoyment of reading by the primary caregiver are the aspects of the HLE[11] which are important predictors of children's language and literacy development.[12],[13] According to Petrill et al., the number of literacy materials in the home may also be influenced by the parents' educational level and intelligence.[14] Maternal reading beliefs also influence children's emergent literacy outcomes. Hence, parent training programs should address and shape the maternal reading beliefs too.[15]

Family's socioeconomic status has an effect on children's early literacy acquisition and development which, in turn, affect reading abilities and life outcomes in future.[16],[17] The homes characterized with higher SES included more quality HLE factors such as better storybook reading practice, greater child's interest toward reading, and reading frequently at a young age. Parents with a higher level of education and SES have been shown to read their children more often.[18]

The tradition of storytelling orally and children listening to stories from elders in the family rather than reading books is prominent in many Indian communities.[19],[20],[21] Khurana and Rao reported that regardless of parental education level, parents preferred storytelling over story reading among 140 parents of preschool children in Mysore, India.[21] In India, we can see that most of the children are exposed to a print environment only during the formal instruction at the kindergarten level. The number of books in Indian homes as reported in the literature varied from 0 to 40[22] to <10 children's books.[23] The frequency of reading reported was also different. According to Kalia and Reese, children were read 2–3 times per week,[22] whereas Pandith et al. stated that children were read 1–2 times per week.[23] Shared reading practice among preschoolers in India is a less explored research area. Hence, the present study aims to understand the parental perspectives and practices on shared reading at home and also its association with socioeconomic status. The objectives are (1) to understand the parental beliefs and attitude toward shared reading in the home environment, (2) to understand the shared reading practices at home, and (3) to report the association of socioeconomic status and HLE factors.


  Methods Top


Forty-one parents (35 mothers and 6 fathers) of 3–5-year-old children with Malayalam as native language living in Kerala participated in the study. Only parents of children with typical speech, language, sensory, and motor development were included in the study, and parents of children with any known speech, language, or neurological impairments and vision/hearing impairments and those settled outside of Kerala were excluded from the study. All parents had a minimum educational qualification of grade 10. The percentage distribution according to age of both parents and children is given in [Table 1]. Among these, 68% of children were school going and 31.7% had not yet started schooling. 58.5% (N = 24) of families belong to lower-middle SES, 26.8% (N = 11) to upper-middle SES, and 14.6% (N = 6) to upper SES.
Table 1: Percentage distribution of age

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Procedure

Before enrolling the parents to this study, their child's speech, language, and motor development was assessed through an informal screening. They were screened using a parental questionnaire focusing on speech, language, hearing, motor, and cognitive milestones. Informed consent was obtained from the participants. The Modified Kuppuswamy Socioeconomic Scale[24] was used to determine the socioeconomic status of the family administered via telephone. The Kuppuswamy SES had included three parameters: (1) occupation of the head of the family, (2) Education of the head of the family, and (3) total monthly income of the family. Each of these parameters is further classified into subgroups and scores have been allotted to each subgroup. Socioeconomic status is determined based on the points attributed to each subgroup. Total score ranges from 3 to 29. Families are classified into five groups: upper class (26–28), upper-middle class (16–25), lower-middle class (11–15), upper-lower class (5–10), and lower class (<5). The Questionnaire on “Parental Perspectives on Storybook Reading in Indian Home Contexts”[23] was used. The content and scoring criteria validation of the questionnaire was done. Furthermore, the internal consistency was checked using Cronbach's alpha and was found to have good internal consistency in all the four domains. The questionnaire was sent to participants who had passed the screening via Google Forms. The questionnaire consists of four domains: (1) children's exposure to reading (6 questions), (2) children's interest in reading (9 questions), (3) parental storybook reading practices (8 questions), and (4) parental attitude and beliefs about storybook reading (15 questions). The received responses were tabulated and appropriate statistical analysis was done.


  Results Top


Statistical analyses were performed by using a statistical software package SPSS, version 20.0. Categorical and quantitative variables were expressed as frequency (percentage) and mean ± standard deviation, respectively. Chi-square test was used to find the association between categorical variables. For all statistical interpretations, P < 0.05 was considered the threshold for statistical significance.

Children's age and frequency of exposure

As indicated in [Table 2], 16 parents (39.2%) reported that they started reading books to their child at an age of 3–4 years, and 14 parents started reading books to their child at an age of 2–3 years. 63.4% of parents reported that they had read books to their child yesterday and 9.7% of parents had read books to their child a month ago. 43.9% of parents read books 3–5 times per week for their child and 24.3% read 6–7 times per week. 7.31% of parents read books to their child for a period >60 min per day and 46.3% read books 10 min per day. Picture books (92.6%) and short storybooks (51.2%) were the most commonly preferred books. 58.5% of families have < 10 children's books in their home.
Table 2: Parental report on age and frequency of exposure to reading

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Child's interest in reading

[Table 3] indicates parents' reports about the child's interest in reading. 51.2% of parents reported that their children sometimes looked at books on their own and 48.7% reported that children asked their parents to read for them. 41.4% of parents reported that their children often ask questions if the story was not clear and 39.02% reported that their children maintain interest during reading stories. 41.4% of parents reported that their children sometimes repeat the new words and 56.09% attempt to read along with the parent. 48.7% of parents reported that their children often comment while the story is being read, 48.7% are able to understand the story, and 36.5% are able to guess what will happen next.
Table 3: Parents' report on child's interest in reading

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Parents' storybook reading practice

[Table 4] depicts parents' storybook reading practice based on eight questions. 46.3% of parents reported that they sometimes name pictures in books and talk about it, 51.2% try to make the story more real, 43.9% change the voice to suit the characters while reading, 39.02% point their child's fingers to words or letters while reading, and 43.9% make their own stories and tell to their child. Sixteen parents sometimes (39.02%) asked their child to repeat the story. 26.5% of parents often ask questions to their child and encourage their child to make his or her own story (34.1%).
Table 4: Parents' storybook reading practice

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Parents' attitudes and beliefs about storybook reading

As indicated in [Table 5], the majority of parents agreed that they have a good memory of reading when they were a child and all enjoy reading storybooks with their child. Majority (97.6%) read books to their child whenever he/she wants and think it is important to develop a broad interest in reading in their child. 21.9% of parents believe that schools are responsible for teaching storybook reading, 14.6% of parents found reading book to their child as boring or difficult, 12.1% do not read books to their child as their child does not sit still when reading, and 26.8% believed that their child is too young to learn about reading. 24.3% of the parents mentioned that they are too busy or too tired to read to their child, 7.31% agreed that they do not read books as there is no quiet place in their home, and 4.87% mentioned that they have more important things to do as a parent. 95.1% believe that reading books will help to develop new vocabulary, thinking, understanding, and moral values in their child.
Table 5: Parents' attitude and beliefs about storybook reading

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Correlation of home literacy environment variables with socioeconomic status and child's age

[Table 6] indicates the correlation between child's age, socioeconomic status, and HLE variables using Chi-square test (age of exposure, frequency of exposure and composite scores for child's interest, parent's reading practices, and parent's attitudes and beliefs). A correlation is observed between child's age and age of exposure to books, χ2 (1, N = 41) =4.79, P = 0.029, but not with socioeconomic status. There is no significant correlation between HLE variables such as number of books read per week, number of books in home, child's interest in reading, parent's reading practices, and parent's attitudes and beliefs toward SES and child's age.
Table 6: Correlation between socioeconomic status, child's age, and home literacy environment variables

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  Discussion Top


Children's age and frequency of exposure

Most of the parents reported that they began reading to their children between 2 and 4 years of age. This finding is consistent with the findings of Pandith et al., which reports on the age of exposure in India.[23] However, when compared to the studies from other geographical areas that report children being read to as early as 6–12 months, this age range is generally high.[25],[26],[27],[28] In Kerala, there is a traditional practice where children between the age of 2 and 3 years are introduced to reading and writing only on a religiously significant auspicious occasion. This could be one of the reasons for delaying the initiation of reading with children. Furthermore, studies had reported that in many Indian communities, the tradition of storytelling orally with children listening to stories from elders in the family rather than reading books is prominent.[19],[20],[21] The frequency of exposure to books was higher (minimum 3–5 times) and the duration of reading per day was same (10 min) in the sample as compared to other studies from India which reports parents read 1–2 times per week for 10 min.[23],[29] When compared to Western contexts, the frequency of shared reading practice is low in India. According to Bracken and Fischel, 54% of parents of preschool children enrolled in the Head Start program in the United States read to their child every day, and 22% read for more than 20 min.[30]

Most of the houses in the present study had <10 children's books in which the majority of them are picture books, which is similar to the findings of Pandith et al.[23] but is less compared to the report of Kalia who reported approximately 22 books in the home.[29] Sajedi et al. reported that the average number of children's books at home in Iran was ten.[31] Similar findings are reported from Chile where 42% of the families had fewer than 10 books in the home and 54.7% of all parents declared having read to their child at least once during the past week.[32] When compared to findings from other sociocultural contexts, which report 61–80 children's books[27] and 100–199 books,[33] these studies reveal fewer books in the home. Several sociocultural and/or environmental factors may influence the number of books in the home. Unawareness of the importance of early book reading, a lack of childhood reading practice in parents, and fewer books in the home may all contribute to lower reading frequency and a later onset of reading exposure in Indian households.

Children's interest in reading

In the present study, parents reported that their children were interested during storybook reading activities, which is similar to the observations made by Pandith et al. among parents of preschool children in Udupi, Karnataka,[23] and Kalia and Vagh among middle- and low-income communities in India.[20] Most of the parents reported that their child sometimes/often looks at books on his/her own. Young children's self-initiated interactions with print at home are important behavioral indexes of emerging motivations for reading.[34] The results of the present study show that half of the sample did not always ask their parents to read to them while the other half took initiative for reading books. Pandith et al. reported that the children did not always ask their parents to read to them,[23] while the findings of Sénéchal et al.[27] and Bracken and Fischel[30] indicated that children themselves took the initiative in joint storybook reading. The interest toward reading is influenced by the way we read books to children. Hence, the parent's substandard shared reading practice may also reduce the interest of children toward shared book reading which could be the reason for this mixed result. Majority of the parents reported that their child asked questions if the story was not clear which was consistent with Pandith et al.'s results.[23] Most of the parents reported that their child could guess what would happen next in the story. This result is in contradiction with Pandith et al. where they reported that most of the children could not guess what would happen next in the story.[23] Most of the parents reported that their children often/very often ask questions if the story is not clear. A majority of parents reported that their child sometimes/never read along with them which was consistent with Pandith et al.[23] It may be that parents did not expect their child to read along, so they did not encourage their child to read along with them

Parents' storybook reading practice

Parents reported naming and talking about pictures in books, pointing their children's fingers to pictures/words/letters, and asking questions, which is consistent with the findings of Pandith et al.[23] The results of this study show that parents often or very often ask their child to repeat the story and encourage them to make his/her story, which was contrary to Pandith et al.[23] These positive strategies exhibited by the parents during shared reading will contribute to language and emergent literacy skills. The strategies used by the parents to enhance positive interactions during shared book reading have been found to positively correlate with both immediate- and long-term effects on children's reading development.[35] Furthermore, providing training to boost parent confidence in shared reading strategies may have a positive impact on their use of these strategies.[36] According to York (2020), exposure to research-based strategies for shared reading was beneficial and helped them feel confident in using the strategies at home.[37]

Parent's attitudes and beliefs about storybook reading

Reading beliefs are depicted as parental assumptions about reading to their children and their ability to act as an educator to their child, their self-efficacy when reading to their child, and the materials available.[38] In the sample studied, the majority of parents have positive attitudes and beliefs about reading and perceive that they have a role in reading. Majority of the parents reported that storybook reading will help their child to develop new vocabulary, thinking and understanding abilities and moral values and help them to do well at reading words at school. Parents consider 'shared book reading' is important to develop a broad interest in their child for reading which is consistent with the findings of Pandith et al.[23] However, more than half of the parents in our study believed that children inherit language from their parents. Parents expressed a desire to read to their children. This parental viewpoint is consistent with Weigel et al. and Pandith et al.[39],[23] Surprisingly, parents in this sample stated that they believe their children are not too young to learn to read, which contradicts the reported age of exposure. Similar observation was made by Pandith et al., 2021.[23] Overall, findings suggest that parents were aware of the benefits of storybook reading and reported a positive attitude toward this experience.

Association of SES, Children's Age, and home literacy environment

Results reveal that there is no significant correlation between SES and HLE variables (age of exposure, number of books read per week, number of books in home, child's interest in reading, parent's reading practices, and parent's attitudes and beliefs) which indicates that the HLE in Kerala is not influenced by the socioeconomic status. This finding is contradicting with the observation of Pandith et al., where they found that the homes with higher SES included more quality HLE factors such as better storybook reading practice, child's interest toward reading, and the reading frequently at young age.[23] Lower SES linked to a less enriched HLE was observed across various sociocultural contexts.[40],[41],[42],[43] As per the census data (2011), Kerala has an effective literacy rate of 93.91%.[44] This high literacy rate in Kerala regardless of SES may be attributed to this finding. Furthermore, in the present study, majority of the parents hail from lower-middle and upper-middle SES and only 14.6% hail from upper class. Increasing the sample size by including the participants across all SES may provide us with better understanding on the influence of SES on HLE factors. Correlation can be observed only between age of exposure and child's age. No correlation can be observed between other HLE variables (number of books read per week, number of books in home, child's interest in reading, parent's reading practices, and parent's attitudes and beliefs) and child's age. This finding is in contradiction with the previous report where the frequency of reading, the number of books, and the child's interest were associated with age.[23] The sample size considered for the present study was 3–5 years. Increasing the sample size by including the participants from younger age groups may help us better understand the influence of age on HLE factors. The parental attitude and beliefs about shared reading did not correlate with SES and child's age. This indicates that parental attitudes and beliefs about shared reading were strong regardless of the child's age or socioeconomic status.

Limitations and future directions

This study provides preliminary insight into the HLE in Kerala, but it has several limitations too. The sample size considered was small and may not represent the entire population. Larger samples that include parents of children across all socioeconomic backgrounds and ages will produce better results. The information was collected over the phone and through Google Forms. A direct interview with the participants will help in further understanding of the parental perception of their child's interest in reading and reading practices. Further, the study focused on the quantity of storybook reading experiences, rather than the quality of the experiences in terms of parent–child interaction behaviors during shared reading. Observation and analysis of shared reading rather than parental reports will help us understand the quality of shared reading practices. Only parents of typically developing children were considered in the present study. Future research focusing on children with various language disorders should come up as research has shown that shared reading interventions will help in improving language and emergent literacy skills of children from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Sometimes, even when parents have a positive attitude toward shared reading, many barriers like a child's negative attitude may interfere with their shared reading practices. Future research to understand the barriers to shared reading will help to support the parents to overcome these barriers and provide high-quality shared reading experience to their children. Furthermore, e-books which are gaining popularity are not considered in the present study. Hence, the parents' perceptions and practices with e-books should also be focused in future research.


  Conclusion Top


Shared reading is an important activity that builds parent–child bonding and also helps in the development of language and emergent literacy skills. The findings of this study provide preliminary information on the HLE in Kerala. When compared to Western contexts, the number of books, the frequency of reading, and the duration of reading were low in India. However, the overall findings suggest that parents were aware of the benefits of storybook reading and reported a positive attitude toward this experience. Furthermore, it was found that the HLE in Kerala is not influenced by socioeconomic status or the child's age which could be attributed to the high literacy rates in Kerala. The article also highlights the need for providing training to support parent confidence in shared reading strategies which may positively impact their use of these strategies.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank all the parents who participated in the study and the authors (Pooja Pandith, Sunila John, Monica L. Bellon-Harn, and Vinaya Manchaiah) of the questionnaire “Questionnaire on Parental Perspectives on Storybook Reading” for giving permission to use this questionnaire for the study.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6]



 

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