The study took place in 15 classrooms located in Head Start centers and public schools in one
A total of 15 classrooms were chosen by the Head Start director from a total of 33 classrooms. Within each classroom, five children were randomly selected to participate in the study, and each class group was randomly assigned to one of three conditions—shared book reading (intervention), business-as-usual general classroom instruction (comparison), and movement activities (placebo). Classrooms had 18–22 children each, aged 3–5 years old. The 75 children selected for the study ranged in age from 4 years, 1 month to 4 years, 11 months. The children in all three conditions were similar with regard to socioeconomic status, as all were eligible for the Head Start program. All teachers involved in the study had the same level of education; high school graduates who had completed the Child Development Associate (CDA) National Credentialing Program requirements, without attaining a bachelor’s degree in education.
The shared book reading intervention involved the classroom teacher reading with a group of
five children for 10–15 minutes a day, 4 days per week, for 8 weeks. The shared book reading
involved three phases: discovery, exploration, and independent experience and expression.
The discovery phase took place for 2 days and involved the teacher introducing new books
and encouraging children to chime in on repetitive sections, fill in missing words, and suggest
possible story outcomes. The exploration phase took place during the rest of the week, beginning
on the second day, and involved the teacher re-reading familiar books. Unison participation
was common in this phase, which focused on teaching children story structure and
relevant reading strategies. The third phase involved independent opportunities for children to
read familiar books with the teacher outside of the small group reading experience.
There were two comparison conditions: (a) business-as-usual general classroom instruction,
during which children had access to social studies and science units, as well as their usual
learning centers, such as art, library, housekeeping, math, and language arts activities; and (b)
movement activities, which did not involve literacy instruction. The children took part in these
activities for 10–15 minutes a day, 4 days per week, for 8 weeks. The business-as-usual practice
may have included some read-aloud activities as part of typical instruction, but structured
interaction focused on the text was not explicitly used. The teacher led children in movement
activities that they had not engaged in previously during the school year.
In the alphabetics domain, the Early School Inventory-Preliteracy/Part A Print Concepts was used
to assess print awareness. Children were shown cards with pictures and/or print and asked to
point to pictures or select words to demonstrate concepts of print.13 In the comprehension domain,
the Early School Inventory-Preliteracy/Part B Story Structure was administered, which measures
children’s ability to retell a familiar story by including specific elements necessary for the story to be
complete. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix B.
Support for implementation
The author conducted centrally-located group training and demonstration sessions with the teachers
in the shared reading intervention group and with the teachers in the movement activities placebo
group. For intervention teachers, charts were provided with guidelines to follow during shared
reading with children. Teachers in the placebo group were instructed to follow the guidelines on
each of the movement records. Teachers in the intervention and placebo groups were monitored
by the author five times during the 8-week intervention period to ensure that they adhered to the
guidelines. Teachers in the comparison group did not require special instruction or support for
implementation, because children in this condition were receiving the usual classroom instruction.