Early Literacy Research Library (ELRL) - Article

Home-Visiting in a Shared Reading Intervention: Effects on Children from Low SES and Ethnic Minority Families

Dias-Broens, A.S., van Steensel, R. (2022) Home-Visiting in a Shared Reading Intervention: Effects on Children from Low SES and Ethnic Minority Families. Early Education and Development, DOI: 10.1080/10409289.2022.2123294,

Access: FREE/Open Access

Publication year


study description


core topic(s)

Early Literacy , Shared Reading

Population Characteristics

International , Poverty/Low-Income , Race, Ethnicity, and Culture

Exposures, Outcomes, Other

Child Behaviors and Skills , Home Visitation , Language and Literacy Development , Parent-Child Relationships/Interactions , Programs and Interventions (other) , Reading Express , School Readiness and Educational Outcomes


In this study, we examined the short- and long term effects of Reading Express, a home-visiting intervention in which volunteers encourage low socio-economic status and ethnic minority parents to engage in interactive shared reading with their child.


Reading Express (home visiting shared reading intervention)

outcomes evaluated

Home literacy environments (HLE’s) and children’s meaning-related skills


We used a pretest-posttest quasi-experimental design: an experimental group of families participating in Reading Express were compared with a waiting list control group of families not yet participating. Because of ethical reasons, random assignment to the conditions was not possible. Instead, families were assigned to a condition based on the order in which they were enrolled in Reading Express. Before and immediately after treatment, children in the experimental and control conditions were administered a vocabulary test and a story comprehension test to assess meaning-related skills, and a “book cover recognition test” to assess exposure to children’s books. On both occasions, parents (or other caregivers) were administered an HLE questionnaire during a personal interview. During a delayed posttest (20 weeks after the program), all instruments were administered again, but only in the experimental condition because waiting list families had started participation in Reading Express at that time.

sample size

n=176 (children, total); n=95 (experimental); n=81 (control)


  • Measure of Child Vocabulary Knowledge and Story Comprehension: two standardized tests from the TAK test battery (“Taaltoets Alle Kinderen” or “Language Test All Children”; Verhoeven & Vermeer, 2006) were used.


  • Measure of Children’s Book Exposure: book cover recognition test based on the title recognition tests originally developed by Cunningham and Stanovich.


  • Measure of Home Literacy Environment: Parents were administered an adaptation of the Stonybrook Family Reading Survey.


Outcomes of a quasi-experiment involving 176 children in the Netherlands (mean age 72 months; nexperimental = 95; ncontrol = 81) revealed favorable outcomes of Reading Express for children’s home literacy environments (i.e., children’s book exposure and parents’ reported shared reading frequency), which were maintained over time. Reading Express also had a positive short-term effect on story comprehension. However, the positive trend in story comprehension leveled off 20 weeks after program termination and there were neither short-term nor long-term effects on receptive vocabulary.


Our results show that longer-term changes can be made in children’s home literacy environments by means of home visiting programs such as Reading Express, but they also suggest the relevance of better adapting programs to the characteristics and needs of participating families.


A first limitation of our study is that, for ethical reasons, we were unable to randomly assign children to experimental and control conditions...A second limitation is that parental shared reading frequency was measured via a parent questionnaire administered by the volunteer readers...A third limitation is that we only included experimental families in our delayed posttest, because following the immediate posttest, the waiting list families started their participation in Reading Express and thus could no longer function as controls...A fourth limitation is that we were not able to observe how volunteers supported parents during home visits...A fifth limitation is that we included measures of HLE quantity, but did not assess the quality of shared reading interactions...Finally, we were not able to test possible intervention effects on children’s home language skills.