Early Literacy Research Library (ELRL) - Article

How Many Parents are Reading with their Young Infants in Rhode Island?

Monteiro, K., Kim, H., Arias, W., High, P. (2019) How Many Parents are Reading with their Young Infants in Rhode Island? Rhode Island Medical Journal, 102(10), 57-60.,

Access: FREE/Open Access

Publication year


study description

Analysis of PRAMS (Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System) data.

core topic(s)

Shared Reading

Population Characteristics

Infant/Newborn , Pregnancy/Postpartum

Exposures, Outcomes, Other

Disparity/Adversity , Mental Health , Reading Frequency


The purpose of this study is to describe the prevalence of and disparities in shared-reading experiences of parents and infants 2 to 6 months old in Rhode Island. In addition, it describes the prevalence of risk behaviors and outcomes by early onset of shared reading in infants.

outcomes evaluated

Shared reading, disparities, and outcomes.


Rhode Island.


Aggregate data from the 2016–2018 Rhode Island Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (RI PRAMS: an ongoing state-based surveillance system of maternal behaviors, attitudes, and experiences before/during/after pregnancy) was analyzed. In the 2016–2018 RI PRAMS, 5,761 mothers were sampled from a total of 29,905 mothers who had a live infant during the period. Of those who were sampled, 3,350 mothers responded to the survey (3-year combined weighted response rate was 59.0%), which was analyzed for this study (see measures)...All data analyses were performed using SAS© software 9.4.

sample size

n=3350 (responses)


Measure of Shared Reading Prevalence: assessed via responses “yes” or “no” responses to the question: “Are you or any other family member currently reading or looking at books with your baby?”


Measure of Reading Frequency: among those who read to their infants, reading frequency in the past week was assessed via the following responses “Did not read to the baby this week”, “1–3 days this week”, “4–7 days this week” to the question: “During the past week, how many days did you or other family members read or look at books with your baby?”


Measures of Disparities: maternal demographic characteristics, age, race/ethnicity, education, marital status, annual household income, insurance coverage postpartum, WIC participation, maternal disability, infant gender, infant age, birth weight, birth parity, survey language and core city residency.


Measures of Maternal Health Indicators, Risk Behaviors, and Birth Outcomes: pregnancy intention, prenatal care in the first trimester, infant safe sleep, postpartum depression, breastfeeding, postpartum checkup, cigarette use during pregnancy, social support postpartum, baby crying/ fussiness and number of children’s book in the home, birth weight, and preterm birth.


This study found a high rate of shared-reading initiation among mothers of 2–6 month old infants in Rhode Island, with about 4 in 5 mothers reporting that they are participating in this experience. The lower rate of shared reading we found in more vulnerable populations is consistent with other reports and supports the need to bring this important message with culturally responsive approaches and supports to families with young children in less advantaged circumstances. Each year more than a third of children in the US enter kindergarten with their language and literacy skills 1 to 3 years behind their peers...This work also found an increase in initiation of shared-reading activities in Rhode Island families with young infants following the 2014 AAP Literacy Policy Statement release.


It is reassuring to know that this message is being heard, the needle is moving in the right direction, and yet, there is a great deal of work to be done to assure that all families with young children have the knowledge and the tools (high-quality children’s books), resources, and supports to promote healthy early development in their infants.


PRAMS data are based on self-report by the survey respondent, so they may be subject to recall bias or bias towards the socially-desirable answer. In addition, women are sampled 2–6 months after giving birth; however, 9.0% of the surveys included in this analysis were received 7 to 9 months postpartum. Despite these limitations, the PRAMS survey is the best source of data to assess population based shared reading activities in Rhode Island families with young infants.