Parents reading with their toddlers: the role of personalisation in book engagement

Kucirkova, Natalia; Messer, David and Whitelock, Denise (2012). Parents reading with their toddlers: the role of personalisation in book engagement. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 13(4) pp. 445–470.



The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of personalised books on parents’ and children’s engagement during shared book reading. Seven native English parents and their children aged between 12 and 33 months were observed at home when sharing a book made specifically for the child (i.e. a personalised book), a comparable book with no personalised content, and a favourite book of the child. The interactions were videotaped and later coded to provide information about the frequency of behaviours that indicated engagement with the books. Statistical analyses revealed that children and parents showed significantly higher overall frequencies of smiles and laughs, with the personalised books in comparison to the non-personalised books and showed higher frequency of vocal activity with the personalised as opposed to child’s favourite book. In addition, there was significantly higher rate of children’s smiles and laughs with the personalised than with the non-personalised book. It appeared that most of the children’s positive affect with the personalised books was in response to the content of the book, while the parents' smiles occurred mostly in response to a smile or laugh of the child. These findings are among the first to suggest that personalised features of books result in specific, distinct responses in parents and children during shared book reading.

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