The Impact of COVID-19 on Families’ Home Literacy Practices with Young Children

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Springer Nature


The practice of shared book reading is a nurturing support for early language, literacy, and socio-emotional development within young children’s typical care. However, the closures of childcare, early education programs, and centers for family activities in the Spring of 2020 due to COVID-19 brought many sudden changes to the everyday lives of families with young children. In order to explore the impact of COVID-19 on shared reading, we surveyed parents of children between the ages of 2 and 5 (n = 85) about their children’s frequency of shared reading engagement in February and October, 2020 as well as the frequency of screen-mediated reading, the number of readers their children read with, and book preferences at both time points. Parents were also asked about changes in their children’s regular care and whether and how they had tried new kinds of (virtual) literacy activities during their increased time at home. Findings showed that there were no significant changes in frequency of shared reading from February to October, but there was a significant increase in frequency of screen-mediated reading, especially among families who lost outside-the-home childcare. There was also a significant decrease in the number of adults regularly reading with the children. Caregivers described adapting to virtual options for storytime. Ultimately, while families were still able to provide consistent amounts of shared reading with their children throughout COVID-19, the nature of that shared reading was changed. Future research will investigate whether these changes may have an impact on children’s typical learning from shared reading.