Early Literacy Research Library (ELRL) - Article

Reading Aloud to Children: The Evidence

Duursma, E., Augustyn, M., Zuckerman, B. (2008) Reading Aloud to Children: The Evidence. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 93(7), 554-557.,

Access: Institutional Access

Publication year


study description


core topic(s)

Reach Out and Read (ROR)

Exposures, Outcomes, Other

Child Behaviors and Skills , Child Development (general) , Language and Literacy Development , Parent Behaviors and Skills , School Readiness and Educational Outcomes


To discuss the evidence around reading aloud to children.


Reach Out and Read (ROR).

outcomes evaluated

Reading aloud and emergent language/literacy skills.


Topics Discussed: Reading aloud and children's emergent literacy and language skills; Phonological awareness and alphabet knowledge; Reading aloud and language development; Reading aloud as a shared experience; Factors influencing Quantity and style of shared book reading; quality or style of shared book reading; A challenge for paediatric clinicians .




Reading aloud to young children, particularly in an engaging manner, promotes emergent literacy and language development and supports the relationship between child and parent. In addition it can promote a love for reading which is even more important than improving specific literacy skills.81 When parents hold positive attitudes towards reading, they are more likely to create opportunities for their children that promote positive attitudes towards literacy82 and they can help children develop solid language and literacy skills. When parents share books with children, they also can promote children’s understanding of the world, their social skills and their ability to learning coping strategies. When this message is supported by child health professionals during well child care and parents are given the tool, in this case a book, to be successful, the impact can be even greater. This effect may be more important among high risk children in low income families, who have parents with little education, belong to a minority group and do not speak English since they are less likely to be exposed to frequent and interactive shared reading.


Promoting healthy child development lies at the heart of paediatric practice, yet a major challenge facing the field is applying evidence based standards. However, the evidence is clear as regards reading aloud to children. Ample research demonstrates that reading aloud to young children promotes the development of language and other emergent literacy skills,1–4 which in turn help children prepare for school.


Not discussed.