Poverty and reading

How can parents with low-literacy skills be encouraged to use picture-books with their infants?

Poverty affects early childhood development as parental stress may reduce the quality of the parent-child relationship and limited resources in the family may mean that children receive less cognitive stimulation.

Reading to babies and toddlers is a means of enabling parent-child communication and of providing cognitive stimulation. The Video Interaction Project reported in this paper offered 14 half-hour sessions throughout the first three years of life with an early years professional who met with mothers individually and video-recorded them playing with or reading to their children.

The video was used to prompt reflection with the mothers, focusing on identifying and reinforcing strengths. The Project worked with 362 women - mostly Hispanic/Latina from low-income backgrounds who were divided equally between the Project group and a control group. Children in the Project group were better behaved at 36 months and their mothers were less depressed. The Project appears to achieve results similar to more intense and expensive interventions, such as home visiting programmes, and is much less expensive.

Read more: Weisleder, A. et al. (2019) Links between shared reading and play, parent psychosocial functioning, and child behavior: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial. The Journal of Pediatrics, 213:187-195.e1


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