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Research shows an association between mother-infant shared reading and children’s language and literacy development. Educators in early childhood education and care (ECEC) centres frequently interact with groups of similar-aged infants, yet infant-educator shared reading has received little attention. This naturalistic observational study videorecorded 20 focus infants (children aged under 2 years) from 20 separate ECEC centres as they went about their normal everyday activities. Each focus infant was videorecorded for approximately 3 h each (a total of 60 h of data), as part of a larger project investigating the language environment in ECEC infant rooms. The present study investigated whether the infants engaged in book-focused interactions with their educators, and if so, whether the infants participated verbally. Each infant’s book-focused interactions were identified and transcribed verbatim, and each infant’s room was assessed using the Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale Revised Edition (ITERS-R) (Listening and Talking Subscale). Nine of the 20 infants did not participate in any shared reading. The extent to which the remaining 11 infants engaged in shared reading ranged from minimal to extensive. In 85% of ECEC rooms, the ITERS-R score for using books was lower than that for helping children understand language and helping children use language. The findings suggest that many educators may be unaware of the importance of reading with infants. Given the benefits of shared reading for infants’ current and future language and literacy development, it is vital that every infant has the opportunity to participate in frequent, sustained, language-rich interactions with their educators.
- shared reading
- language and literacy
- early childhood education and care (ECEC)
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