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Shared Reading Practices and Early Literacy Promotion in the First Year of Life

Sinclair, Elizabeth M. MD*,†; McCleery, Ellen J. MPH; Koepsell, Lorraine RN, BSN, CPN§; Zuckerman, Katharine E. MD, MPH§,‖; Stevenson, Ellen B. MD, MPH§,‖

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: May 29, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000690
Original Article: PDF Only

Limited research exists on family reading practices, the impact of counseling, and book distribution in the first 6 months of life, despite recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Reach Out and Read promoting shared reading from birth.

Objective: To describe infant home reading trajectories and environments in the first year and to assess whether receiving books starting in the newborn period, compared with starting at 6 months, alters these trajectories.

Methods: Two study groups were enrolled in a quasi-experimental sequential cohort study; both groups received shared reading counseling starting in the newborn period and completed surveys throughout the first year. The Standard group received books starting at 6 months, whereas the Early Books group received books starting at 2 weeks. Reading trajectories were assessed both overall and between the study groups.

Results: At the 2-week visit, less than half of families in each group had started shared reading with their infant, which rose to >97% by 12 months. Approximately two-thirds of families owned >10 children's books at 2 weeks, which increased to >80% at 12 months. Incorporating shared reading into bedtime routines also increased during the first year. Early versus standard book distribution did not alter these trajectories.

Conclusion: Over the first year of life, families almost universally initiated shared reading and increased the number of books in the home. Reading habits established during this time were maintained in both groups. Literacy promotion beginning at the earliest well-child visits may help establish routines that will persist throughout childhood.

*Pediatric Residency Program, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Portland, OR;

Pediatric Gastroenterology Fellowship Program, Emory University, Atlanta, GA;

OHSU, School of Medicine, Portland, OR;

§Department of Pediatrics, OHSU, Portland, OR;

OHSU-Portland State University, School of Public Health, Portland OR.

Address for reprints: Elizabeth Sinclair, Pediatric Divisions of GI and Transplant Hepatology, Emory–Children's Center, 2015 Uppergate Dr. NE, Atlanta, GA 30322; e-mail:

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Received October 10, 2018

Accepted April 10, 2019

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