Australian Journal of Education

Article Title

The real power of parental reading aloud : exploring the affective and attentional dimensions


Reading with an adult plays an important role in developing children’s oral language skills, phonological awareness and print knowledge. Parental reading aloud is also an indicator of children’s later academic success, which suggests that the practice may be further linked to children’s development of broader academic skills and behaviour, such as persistence and the ability to sustain attention. In exploring this link, the present study draws on the growing literature on emotion and attention in learning. Theories of language and language development help to illuminate the auditory dimension of language and literacy learning. This article proposes that the power of parental reading aloud may be underestimated. While shared storybook reading enhances children’s pre-reading skills, uninterrupted listening to narratives may assist children both to acquire the underpinning prosodic sensitivity that accompanies expressive reading aloud and to develop the auditory attention systems that are associated with academic achievement. This raises questions about the common classroom practice of shared reading, particularly for those children who have not had previous extensive exposure to the written language read aloud.