Interactive book reading between bilingual caregiver and Head Start child

Victoria Bishop McLaughlin, Fordham University


The main purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the nature of interactions between bilingual caregiver and Head Start child during interactive book reading. The changes across time as a book became familiar and the effects of the educational level and language background of the caregiver also were examined. Four participant dyads, each with 1 caregiver and 1 child, audio recorded the same book at least once a week for 6 weeks in the naturalistic home setting. Data collection and analysis included: a caregiver home survey, audio tapings and transcripts of shared book readings, weekly group meetings with researcher, journal entries by caregivers, a final collaborative interview with participants, and the researcher's personal investigation journal. Major findings showed that interactive book reading discourse often became a routine exchange between conversational partners that followed a pattern of repetition and questions. Caregivers used shared book reading sessions to advance the children's language development in color recognition, counting skills, and the expansion of their Spanish as well as English vocabularies. Pictures in the text provided the spark for the majority of the children's questions. As familiarity with the text increased, the number of utterances by the children increased, the children asked more questions about the letters or words and the storyline, the caregivers increased their number of more abstract extratextual utterances, and all children in the study attempted to "read" the book by themselves. Educational level and language background of the bilingual caregiver influenced the interactions between caregiver and child. Results suggest that detailed comprehension of stories by young children appears to happen over time with the text and illustrations and revisiting story events. Interactive book reading in bilingual families provided opportunities to translate words from either language to the other, thereby adding to language and early literacy development. Patterns document the positive role of text familiarity in the development of higher levels of abstract thinking during interactive book reading. For the preschool children learning to speak English as a second language in school, storybook reading provides a warm environment for increasing their English vocabulary as well as valuing their home language.

Subject Area

Preschool education|Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Literacy|Reading instruction

Recommended Citation

McLaughlin, Victoria Bishop, "Interactive book reading between bilingual caregiver and Head Start child" (2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3208577.