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Family Literacy

Focus On Storybook Reading

Although ethnographic research with families reveals myriad forms and functions of reading and writing in daily life, many family literacy programs focus on reading story books to children as the way (Pellegrini 1991) to support children's literacy development. This emphasis on storybook reading apparently emanates from early research with precocious readers (Clarke 1976). This research, conducted mainly with white, middle-class families, indicates that reading to children was a common factor.

Several criticisms, however, have been raised about the emphasis on storybook reading. First, clear evidence shows that young children's literacy development is supported in many different ways in addition to storybook reading (Taylor 1983). Second, storybook reading is not common across all cultures and social classes; by emphasizing it, the literacy practices of minority and other groups are devalued. Third, not all children enjoy being read to, and the implication that it is necessary in order for children to learn to read causes some parents to insist on their children's participation. Hollis Scarborough and Wanda Dobrich (1994) cautioned that some children consequently develop negative attitudes toward reading. Finally, despite the importance placed on storybook reading, the empirical evidence suggests that it plays a less significant role in learning to read than is commonly believed (Scarborough and Dobrich 1994).

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily & Marriage TraditionsFamily Literacy - Family Literacy Programs, Family-school Relationships, Focus On Storybook Reading, Early Childhood Focus - Issues