The study was conducted in one early childhood education center in the Hillsborough County
School System in the inner-city section of Tampa, Florida.
The study focused on all 4-year-old children in the prekindergarten classes in the At-Risk
Program, which serves children based on educational and economic need (i.e., families receiving
federal assistance) or identified as suffering from abuse and neglect. The center had six prekindergarten classes with a total of 148 children, aged 2–4 years old. All 66 children who
were 4 years old were included in the sample at baseline. The sample was grouped according
to developmental level. Those above the median score on the district’s Children’s Inventory of
Learning Development (CHILD) Test were considered “Average Development Level,” and those
below the median were considered “Delayed Development Level.” Within each level, children
were randomly assigned to either repeated storybook reading with adult interaction (intervention),
repeated storybook reading without adult interaction (Comparison 1), or business-as-usual
prekindergarten classroom instruction (Comparison 2). At random assignment, there were 22
children in each of the three conditions. At posttest, there were 18 children in the intervention
group, 20 children in the Comparison 1 group, and 15 children in the Comparison 2 group. This
sample was comprised of 27 girls and 26 boys; 87% of the children were African American.
The shared book reading intervention, referred to as “adult-interaction repeated storybook reading”
by the study author, was implemented as a pull-out program. The intervention involved the author
reading Big Book storybooks aloud to children, one book each week, for a total of 20 weeks. The
same Big Book was read three times during the week. Interaction occurred before, during, and
after the book reading. Before reading, the author introduced the book, encouraged children to
generate predictions about the story based on title and pictures, asked questions that related the
children’ lives and the story, and established a purpose for listening to the story. During the reading,
the author showed illustrations, indicated the correspondence between spoken and written
words with a pointer, clarified or explained the text, asked inferential questions or questions related to the purpose for listening, and encouraged children to generate predictions about the story content. After reading, the instructor encouraged discussion, asked questions to generate evaluative responses, and related the story concepts to children’s lives. On subsequent readings, the children were asked to recall key aspects of the story and to participate in the reading (chanting refrains or filling in predictable phrases). Each session lasted for a maximum of 25 minutes and was conducted in the morning during the prekindergarten classrooms’ large block of activity time.
The comparison condition was repeated storybook reading without adult interaction, which was
a pull-out program in which the author read the same 20 Big Book storybooks used in the intervention condition. Big Book storybooks were read as written, without adult interaction. Books
were read three times per week, one book per week, for 20 weeks. Each session lasted a maximum
of 25 minutes and was conducted in the morning during the prekindergarten classrooms’ large block of activity time. The author did not comment, ask questions, or answer questions before or during book reading. Although the author did not initiate any interaction with children, the author would answer children’s questions after the reading was completed.
In the language development domain, the author used the PLS, a standardized measure of language
development. In the general reading achievement domain, the author used the TERA, a
standardized test of prereading, including environmental contexts, vocabulary, listening comprehension, alphabetics, and print awareness. Posttest assessments were administered at the end of the 20-week intervention period. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix B.
Support for implementation
The intervention and comparison storybook reading conditions were both implemented by the
author, who audio-recorded each reading session and reviewed the tapes to monitor consistency
of reading style in all small groups within each condition. In addition, reading instructors at
the University of South Florida reviewed the tapes to assess fidelity to procedures and scripts.