Early Literacy Research Library (ELRL) - Article

A Shared Reading Intervention: Changing Perceptions of Caregivers in a Semi-Rural Township

Coetzee, T., Moonsamy, S., Neille, J. (2023) A Shared Reading Intervention: Changing Perceptions of Caregivers in a Semi-Rural Township. South African Journal of Communication Disorders, 70(1), 948.,

Access: FREE/Open Access

Publication year


study description


core topic(s)

Shared Reading

Population Characteristics

International , Rural , Toddler/Preschool

Exposures, Outcomes, Other

Anticipatory Guidance , Implementation and Evaluation , Parent Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs , Programs and Interventions (other) , Technology and Digital/Screen-Based Media


To describe (1) caregivers’ perceptions of shared reading, (2) caregivers’ perceptions of barriers to shared reading and (3) changes in these perceptions following a short intervention.


Shared reading video intervention

outcomes evaluated

Caregiver perceptions of shared reading


This study took place at three daycare centres in a semi-rural township called Orange Farm, located south of Johannesburg in Gauteng, South Africa.


A qualitative methodology was used to understand the perceptions of 40 caregivers from a semi-rural South African township. Two semi-structured interviews were conducted before and after intervention. The intervention was a short training video about shared reading.

sample size

n=40 (caregivers)


Qualitative thematic analysis


Caregivers described the unfamiliar reading culture and viewed reading as an educational activity that they knew little about. Barriers to shared reading included lack of time, few reading materials and low levels of literacy or lack of exposure to this type of activity. Following the intervention, they acknowledged the importance of shared reading, described growing confidence in their shared reading abilities and closer relationships with their children.


Speech-language therapists (SLTs) have a pivotal role to play in caregiver training of emergent literacy skills and can make a marked impact in guiding caregivers’ shared reading. A short video-based intervention can alter caregiver perceptions and practices, which may be the first step in changing behaviours. The study provides an example of a simple and cost-effective intervention that changed caregiver perception and caregivers’ reported shared reading practice.


This study has some limitations in that the cohort recruited was relatively small, and results can therefore not easily be generalised as contextual factors will differ. Furthermore, the children who participated in this study were of a large age range, which complicates the interpretation of findings about specific shared reading behaviours for specific age groups as emergent literacy skills develop across a continuum. Similarly, the same applies to the large age range of caregivers as this introduced additional variables that necessitate cautious interpretation of results. However, this situation reflects typical communities in the majority world countries. The role of the reading partner, such as siblings versus parents, needs to be further researched as each group will bring a diversity of life experiences, strengths and weaknesses to their interactions and reading behaviours. The results obtained in this study report on the short-term perceptions of caregivers. Further studies would need to investigate the sustainability of reported new behaviours and what minimum intervention dosage yields the most long-lasting results.