Joint Book Reading

What is Joint Book Reading?

It might come as no surprise that, at its core, joint book reading is just what it sounds like— the shared activity of reading books aloud with a child, or group of children. However, this definition does nothing to illustrate its value as a source of enrichment and embedded instruction. 

Why is Joint Book Reading Important?

Considered to be an essential feature of emergent literacy instruction, studies have linked joint book reading with gains in vocabulary growth, narrative and conversation skills, text comprehension, print awareness, phonological awareness, later reading ability, and more! The benefits of joint book reading for virtually every domain of emergent literacy make it an invaluable tool for early childhood educators.

Existing research has long supported joint book reading as an essential activity for developing the early literacy knowledge required for future reading success.

The following is a list of central points from foundational and recent research in support of joint book reading:


  • Children who are read to regularly in their early years learn language faster, enter school with a larger vocabulary, and have greater success in reading at school (Bus, et. al., 1995). ·
  • Shared book readings involving quality interactions— [those] in which adults aid children in deciphering and comprehending text using questions and feedback­— results in greater language and literacy gains (Dickinson & Smith, 1994; Doyle & Bramwell, 2006; Wasik & Bond, 2001). ·
  • “Many researchers have suggested that shared storybook reading is an ideal context for teaching emergent literacy skills to preschool children” (Girolametto et al, 2012).
  • Interactive joint book reading appears to foster higher levels of joint attention, responsiveness, and contingent talk, all of which are known to support language development (Carpenter et al., 1998; Farrant & Zubrick, 2013; McGillion et al., 2017; Tomasello & Farrar, 1986).

Perhaps most importantly of all, joint book reading provides a natural environment for literacy exposure—one that can help children associate the experience of reading with positive emotions. In this lesson, we will discuss various strategies that you can use to make the most out of joint book reading.

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