Early Literacy Research Library (ELRL) - Article

Reading Aloud, Self-Regulation, and Early Language and Cognitive Development in Northern Brazil

Piccolo, L.dR., Weisleder, A., Oliveira, J.B.A., Mazzuchelli, D.S.R., Lopez, A.S., Neto, W.D., Cates, C.B., Mendelsohn, A.L. (2022) Reading Aloud, Self-Regulation, and Early Language and Cognitive Development in Northern Brazil. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 43(2), e70-e78.,

Access: Institutional Access

Publication year


study description

Cluster randomized controlled trial.

core topic(s)

Shared Reading

Population Characteristics

International , Toddler/Preschool

Exposures, Outcomes, Other

Brain/Neurocognitive , Child Behaviors and Skills , Child Development (general) , Language and Literacy Development , Parent Behaviors and Skills , Parent-Child Relationships/Interactions , Programs and Interventions (other) , Universidade do Bebê


In this study, we examined: (1) whether a reading aloud intervention, Universidade do Bebeˆ (UBB), had impacts on self-regulation; (2) whether effects on child outcomes were mediated by self regulation; and (3) whether effects of UBB were explained through a sequential pathway of impact, including cognitive stimulation in the home, parent-child interactive reading, and self-regulation.


Universidade do Bebê (UBB): a reading aloud intervention.

outcomes evaluated

Self-regulation and language/literacy outcomes.


All parents of children between 2 and 4 years of age, who were registered for child care in 22 educational centers across the city of Boa Vista, serving low-income children, were invited to participate in this study and enrolled after consent.


We performed a cluster randomized controlled trial of UBB in child care centers serving low-income children (mean age 37.4 months; SD 5 6.5) in Northern Brazil. The child care centers were randomized to receive UBB or standard care (control). Families in UBB could borrow children’s books weekly and participate in monthly workshops focused on reading aloud. Parent-child dyads (n 5 484, intervention 5 232, control 5 252) were evaluated at baseline and 9 months later on: child self-regulation, vocabulary, intelligence quotient (IQ), working memory, and phonological memory and measures of cognitive stimulation in the home and parent-child interactive reading. Multilevel analyses accounted for baseline performance, sociodemographics, and clustering within centers and sites.

sample size

n=484 (total);n=232 (intervention); n=252 (control)


Measure of Self Regulation (Aim 1): Preschool Self-Regulation Assessment (PSRA) Assessor report total score and sub dimensions (attention, impulse control, positive emotion).


Aims 2-3 Measures:

    • Measure of Receptive Vocabulary: Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (TVIP)
    • Measure of Expressive Vocabulary: Boston Naming Test (TIN)
    • Measure of IQ: Snijders-Oomen Nonverbal Intelligence Test (SON-RTellegen)
    • Measure of Working Memory (WM): TIME-R
    • Measure of Short-term Phonological Memory: TRPP

Measure of Mediation Variables:

    • Cognitive stimulation in the home: StimQ
    • Parent Child Interactive Reading: Adult-Child Interactive Reading Inventory (ACIRI)


The UBB group showed significantly higher self-regulation (Cohen’s d 5 0.25), compared with the control group, particularly in the subdomains of Attention (d 5 0.24) and Impulse Control (d 5 0.21). Previously shown impacts of UBB on receptive vocabulary, IQ, and working memory were mediated by self-regulation. Effects of UBB on self-regulation and child outcomes were partially explained through cognitive stimulation in the home and parent-child interactive reading.


Self-regulation represents an important mechanism by which reading aloud interventions affect language and cognitive outcomes. Investigators should consider the role of self-regulation when refining interventions, seeking to prevent poverty-related disparities.


First, although the sample size was relatively large, the number of clusters was lower, allowing for the possibility that baseline differences could have accounted for impacts ascribed to intervention status. In this paper, we addressed this analytically through inclusion of random effects within models and by accounting for a wide range of potential covariates. Second, the assessment of self-regulation and other child cognitive and language outcomes was performed at the same time, precluding definitive determination of the directionality of effects within mediation models. Third, the study was performed in a single LMIC, and additional studies would be needed to replicate findings in other countries.