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‘No-one would sleep if we didn’t have books’: Understanding the barriers and motivations to shared reading in families

Thursday 22 November 2018 10am-11:30am Room 2, Level 5, 215 Spring Street, Melbourne

We know that there are substantial benefits in reading with young children from their earliest years. This has been confirmed in numerous research studies across the world (Jalongo and Sobolak, 2011; Britto and Brooks-Gunn, 2001; Britto et al, 2006; Edwards, 2014). Yet not all families read with their pre-school children. Indeed many interventions have been carried out with the aim of promoting shared reading in homes, yet what is missing from all such intervention is an understanding of what families already do and how shared reading activity fits within the construct of everyday family life.  This presentation begins from a position that recognises that if parents are to be widely supported in reading regularly with their children, then such intervention must stem from an exploration of what currently happens in homes, including gaining an understanding of why parents do and do not read with their children.  By drawing on a research study with 29 families in two English cities, this presentation demonstrates how for many families, shared reading is already a part of 『doing family’.  However for some families, and perhaps particularly those from low socio-economic groups, there is a need for certain conditions to be met if shared reading practices are to be maintained or, in some cases, occur at all. This presentation argues that in order to support more families in reading regularly with their children, there is a need to firstly understand how different families use shared reading activity within their own individual and everyday family lives.


Dr Rachael Levy from University of Sheffield. Following her doctoral research into young children’s perceptions of reading, and the publication of her book Young Children Reading at Home and at School, Rachael has been researching shared reading practices in the home. This has been part of a collaborative three-year project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in the UK. Rachael is also interested in gender and literacy and has published in this area.  She is overall Course Director for the Sheffield EdD programme and is Named Route Director for the EdD Early Childhood Education.  She has taken a number of doctoral students through to successful completion who have been conducting research into topics such as reading, literacy and early childhood education.

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‘No-one would sleep if we didn’t have books’: Understanding the barriers and motivations to shared reading in families