Reading Aloud to Children, Social Inequalities, and Vocabulary Development: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial

28 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2020

See all articles by Carlo Barone

Carlo Barone

SciencesPo - LIEPP - Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Evaluation of Public Policies

Denis Fougère

National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) - National School for Statistical and Economic Administration (ENSAE); National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Karine Martel

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Abstract

This study presents the results of a randomized controlled trial assessing the impact of a shared-book reading (SBR) intervention that targeted children aged 4 living in socially mixed neighborhoods of the city of Paris. We selected a large, random sample of families and provided parents with free books, information on the benefits of SBR and tips for effective reading practices. We measured SBR frequency and children's vocabulary before and after this intervention, among treated and control children. The intervention had a large effect on SBR frequency. At the pre-test, SBR on a daily basis involved 41.2% of the families, and the treatment fostered this practice by 8 percentage points. SBR on a weekly basis was fostered by 14 percentage points. The intervention fostered SBR frequency only in low-educated households. This equalising impact is an important finding against the background of previous research reporting that disadvantaged families tend to benefit less from SBR programs. The intervention also significantly enhanced children's language skills measured with standardized tests of receptive vocabulary. The effect size for the main treatment effect ranges from 0.12 at the post-test to 0.16 at the follow-up. Treatment effects are persistent six months after the end of the intervention. Children from low-educated and immigrant families improved their vocabulary as much as those from high-educated, native families. Moreover, the persisting positive impacts on vocabulary growth detected at the follow-up also involve children from disadvantaged families. Furthermore, these children more often attend schools with lower educational resources. It is therefore encouraging that the intervention has strong impacts in schools with initially low involvement in reading-related activities and with low educational resources.

Keywords: early childhood, language skills, parental reading, field experiment

JEL Classification: I21, I24, J13, C93

Suggested Citation

Barone, Carlo and Fougere, Denis and Martel, Karine, Reading Aloud to Children, Social Inequalities, and Vocabulary Development: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13458, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3648798

Carlo Barone (Contact Author)

SciencesPo - LIEPP - Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Evaluation of Public Policies ( email )

27, rue Saint-Guillaume
Paris
France

Denis Fougere

National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) - National School for Statistical and Economic Administration (ENSAE) ( email )

15, Boulevard Adolphie PINARD
92245 Malakoff Cedex
France
+33 1 4117 7713 (Phone)
+33 1 4117 7634 (Fax)

National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)

3, rue Michel-Ange
Paris cedex 16, 75794
France

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Karine Martel

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
9
Abstract Views
94
PlumX Metrics