Early Literacy Research Library (ELRL) - Article

Effects of training parents in dialogic book‐sharing: The Early‐Years Provision in Children’s Centers (EPICC) study

Murray, L., Jennings, S., Perry, H., Andrews, M., De Wilde, K., Newell, A., Mortimer, A., Phillips, E., Liu, X., Hughes, C., Melhuish, E., De Pascalis, L., Dishington, C., Duncan, J., & Cooper, P. J. (2023). Effects of training parents in dialogic book‐sharing: The Early‐Years Provision in Children's Centers (EPICC) study. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 62, 1-16.,

Access: FREE/Open Access

Publication year


study description

Randomized Controlled Trial

core topic(s)

Early Literacy , Early Relational Health , Pediatric Primary Care , Shared Reading

Exposures, Outcomes, Other

Clinic-Based Programs and Interventions , Parent-Provider Relationships/Interactions , Provider Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs


We conducted a randomized trial of dialogic book-sharing in Children's Centers in the UK, with parents of 2- to- 4-year-old children, hypothesizing that it would benefit parenting and a range of child developmental outcomes


Dialogic book-sharing sessions

outcomes evaluated

For all study outcomes we compared controls with each of the Intention-to-Treat population and the per-protocol population (participants attending the requisite number of sessions); and, for primary child outcomes only, the population of parents who engaged well with the intervention. There were substantial benefits of dialogic book-sharing training to parental behavior during book-sharing, especially for sensitivity and cognitive scaffolding.


Children's Centers in the UK


Intervention group parents (n = 110) received 7, weekly, group training sessions, and control parents (n = 108) the usual center input. Parenting and a range of child outcomes (language, attention, executive function, social development, and emotional-behavior difficulties) were assessed on 3 occasions: before, after, and 4–6 month following intervention.

sample size

Intervention group parents (n = 110) AND control parents (n = 108)


For all 3 sets of comparisons there were small-medium effects of on child expressive language, and, for the per protocol and engaged populations, similar sized effects on child receptive language and attention.


No positive effects were observed on other aspects of child development through dialogic book-sharing. We recommend incorporating specific intervention components into standard dialogic book-sharing to bring about improvements in these areas.


Limitations include the relatively small number of Children's Centers, with some associated baseline variation between groups, and this in turn necessitating inclusion in analyses of a covariate that had not been pre-specified, namely, the amount of book-sharing parents did at baseline. Finally, the fact that sampling was based on planned mid-range medium effect sizes left the study underpowered to show significance for some of the small to medium effects found.