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Study: Shared Book Reading Boosts English-Learners' Language Skills

A practice known as "shared book reading"engaging children by pointing to pictures, discussing word meanings, and the sequence of events in a book during one-on-one or small-group settingshas widely been presumed to boost language growth for English-learners.

Now, a new analysis from researchers at Florida State University of more than 50 reading studies has determined that to be true.

In the report, "Shared Book Reading Interventions with English Learners: A Meta-Analysis," the researchers reviewed 54 studies that included nearly 4,000 students, and found that many different forms of shared reading can facilitate language growth for English-learners—who are over-represented among students who read at below-basic levels in U.S. schools.

In any form, shared book reading allows adults to model the skills of a proficient reader, focusing on fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

"Overall, the widespread use of shared reading as an educational activity and as a vehicle for delivering intervention programs appears to be warranted," the study authors concluded.30-SR-ELL-Parents-Read-blog.jpg

The researchers did note a key limitation of the work: some of the studies in the meta-analysis did not indicate whether texts in English or the childrens' native language were used during shared reading.

The research team also signaled that their conclusions may be most applicable for adults and parents working with for Spanish-speaking English-learners, because more than 75 percent of the participants from the 50-plus studies were native Spanish speakers.

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Image Credit: Eriselda Hernandez, right, reads with Fernanda Arana before school begins at Washington Elementary School in San Jose, Calif. The school's weekly Madre a Madre meetings help bring parents into the school regularly to support children's literacy development.
--Preston Gannaway/GRAIN for Education Week
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