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Reading to Children
Seminal research:
Heath found children who are read to interactively become better readers than children who are not read to interactively or not read to at all. She studied adult practices of story reading to preschool children in three neighboring communities.

Heath found (1) in the community where the children tended to do well in reading throughout school, the parents provided their children with children's books and read story books to them interactively (as they read to them, they made sure their children understood what was being read to them), (2) in the community where children tended to do well in the early elementary grades but not the later elementary grades, the parents provided their children with children's books and read story books to them but did not interact with their children when they read to them to ensure their active involvement and understanding, and (3) in the community where the children tended to do poorly in reading in school, the parents valued school and saw it as a means of economic advancement for their children but did not provide their preschool children with books and did not read stories to them.

    Heath, S.B. (1982). What no bedtime story means: narrative skills at home and school. Language in Society, II, 49-76.
    Heath, S.B. (1983). Ways with Words. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Replication research:
  • Wells found that children who are read to become better readers and achieve more in school. Wells observed children from a full range of economic and educational family backgrounds in their homes over a nine-year period—from the time they were fifteen months old until they were ten years old.
  • Wells found children who had been read to in their pre-school years had more knowledge of print when they entered school.

    He also found that there was a significant relationship between children's knowledge of print when they entered school and their achievement in school.

      Wells, G. (1985). Preschool literacy-related activities and success in school. Literacy, Language, and Learning. Eds. D. Olson, A. Hildyard, and N. Torrance. New York: Cambridge University Press.
      Wells, G. (1986). The Meaning Makers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

  • Feitelson and Goldstein found children who are read to become better readers. They studied kindergarten children's home environments in neighborhoods where children tended to do well in school and in neighborhoods where children tended not to do as well.
  • They found that in neighborhoods where children tended to do well in school, 96% of the children were read to daily and 45% of these children were read to for half an hour or more a day. In contrast, they found that in neighborhoods where children tended to do poorly in school, 61% of the children were not read to at all.

    They also found that in neighborhoods where children tended to do well in school, almost half of the children were read to regularly before they were two years old. In contrast, in neighborhoods where children tended to do poorly in school, none of the children were read to until they were four years old.

      Feitelson, D., & Goldstein, Z. (1986). Patterns of book ownership and reading to young children in Israeli school-oriented and non-school-oriented families. The Reading Teacher, 39, 924-930.

  • Feitelson, Kita and Goldstein found that reading to children in school increases children's reading achievement. They studied four first-grade classes, one where the children were read to from series stories the last twenty minutes of the school day at the request of the researchers and three where the children were not read to in class.

    They found as the experiment was in progress that half of the children in the class that was read to spontaneously bought or borrowed copies of the series books and read them during their breaks and free time at school. At the end of the six month study Feitelson and her colleagues found the children in the class that had had stories read to them daily in school read better than the children that had not had stories read to them.

      Feitelson, D., Kita, B., & Goldstein, Z. (1986). Effects of listening to series stories on first graders' comprehension and use of language. Research in the Teaching of English, 20, 339-356.

(See also, Access to Engaging, Age-Appropriate Books, Reading by Children)
 
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