Early Shared Reading, Socioeconomic Status, and Children's Cognitive and School Competencies: Six Years of Longitudinal Evidence

Sci Stud Read. 2018;22(6):485-502. doi: 10.1080/10888438.2018.1482901. Epub 2018 Jun 25.

Abstract

This study explored the longitudinal association between early shared reading and children's later school achievement. We also examined the mediating role of children's academic school readiness and the moderating effect of family socioeconomic status. Data were drawn from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (n = 4,768). Frequency of shared reading and academic school readiness were assessed at the ages of 2-3 and 4-5. School achievement was assessed at age 8-9 via standardized national tests of school literacy and mathematics achievement. Results indicated that early shared reading was associated with children's school achievement directly and indirectly through receptive language and early academic skills. The results also showed that frequency of reading predicts the outcome measures, over and above other home activities such as telling child a story or practicing music. The associations were stronger among low and middle SES groups compared to the high SES group. We conclude that shared reading is uniquely associated to indicators of children's cognitive development such as language and early academic skills as well as children's school achievement. This effect is over and above families' socioeconomic status and other activities that parents do. This may be because books offer unique opportunities to teach children new words and concepts in a systematic way, and this is something that most parents would not be able to do otherwise.

Keywords: literacy; longitudinal; mathematics; reading competency; school readiness; shared reading.