Nicholas Dowdall: How Book Sharing Supports Language Development and Family Bonding

Nicholas Dowdall, Doctoral researcher at Oxford University, explores the positive outcomes of book sharing initiatives in impoverished cultures.


Full Transcript

My name's Nicholas Dowdall. I am a Doctoral Researcher at Oxford University where my research focuses on early childhood development, particularly in impoverished contexts. Book sharing interventions can have a profound influence on young children's ability to focus; their sustained and focal attention. Even in a relatively short period of time, for example, over the 8 week intervention, we've seen impressive gains on both expressive and receptive language of young children - so, comprehension and the ability of children to express more words we've seen that both in parent's self-report, but also in objective observed measures of child language. And that's been well demonstrated over three decades of research but in high income countries. What our research has demonstrated is that these kinds of interventions can also have similar, or even more profound effects of child language in impoverished contexts and in contexts where parents themselves may be aren't as educated and where there isn't a culture of book sharing and that's really exciting. One of the other important impacts that we've seen is that parents become much more sensitive as a result of book sharing interventions. And by sensitive, we mean that they facilitate, for example, book sharing much better, they follow the interest of their child, they are a lot less likely to intrude or have coercive behaviours, they bring in positive aspects, for example praise, and that has important implications for child development more broadly. So I think what our research and research from all over the world clearly demonstrates, is that book sharing is a universal activity and that all children across the world, regardless of their socioeconomic status or culture, can benefit immensely from this activity and that all families should be practicing book sharing with their children on a daily basis because we know it's one of the most powerful things that a parent can do to give their child the best start in life.  

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