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‘No-one would sleep if we didn’t have books!’: Understanding Shared Reading as Family Practice and Family Display

Hall, Melanie and Levy, Rachael and Preece, Jenny (2018) ‘No-one would sleep if we didn’t have books!’: Understanding Shared Reading as Family Practice and Family Display. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 16 (4). pp. 363-377. ISSN 1476-718X

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Abstract

Families are pivotal in terms of facilitating children’s language development, including their ability to read. However, to date, there is little research designed to understand how shared reading operates within the realm of everyday family practices. Drawing on data from a study which set out to explore shared reading practices in the home, this article considers reading within the context of the family and everyday family life. In-depth interviews were carried out with 29 parents of pre-school children to investigate shared reading practices within a socially and culturally mixed sample. This study revealed that the relationship between shared reading practices and family practices is recursive. In particular, building on the seminal work of Finch reading was seen to be a specific feature of family practice and routine, and acts as a form of family display. Furthermore, this article demonstrates how shared reading contributes toward the ways in which structure and agency may operate in a family setting. Constructing reading as a family practice and a form of display makes an important contribution to understandings of home literacy practices and behaviors. This article concludes that endeavors to engage families with shared reading therefore require a comprehensive understanding of family life and family practices and the role of shared reading within.

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