Original Research

A shared reading intervention: Changing perceptions of caregivers in a semi-rural township

Tarryn Coetzee, Sharon Moonsamy, Joanne Neille
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 70, No 1 | a948 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v70i1.948 | © 2023 Tarryn Coetzee, Sharon Moonsamy, Joanne Neille | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 September 2022 | Published: 26 January 2023

About the author(s)

Tarryn Coetzee, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Sharon Moonsamy, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Joanne Neille, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Many caregivers from low-middle income (LMI) households consider that preschool children are too young for shared book reading. Thus, many caregivers are unaware of their potentially powerful role in their children’s emergent literacy and communication.

Objectives: To describe (1) caregivers’ perceptions of shared reading, (2) caregivers’ perceptions of barriers to shared reading and (3) changes in these perceptions following a short intervention.

Method: A qualitative methodology was used to understand the perceptions of 40 caregivers from a semi-rural South African township. Two semi-structured interviews were conducted before and after intervention. The intervention was a short training video about shared reading.

Results: Caregivers described the unfamiliar reading culture and viewed reading as an educational activity that they knew little about. Barriers to shared reading included lack of time, few reading materials and low levels of literacy or lack of exposure to this type of activity. Following the intervention, they acknowledged the importance of shared reading, described growing confidence in their shared reading abilities and closer relationships with their children.

Conclusion: Speech-language therapists (SLTs) have a pivotal role to play in caregiver training of emergent literacy skills and can make a marked impact in guiding caregivers’ shared reading. A short video-based intervention can alter caregiver perceptions and practices, which may be the first step in changing behaviours.

Contribution: The study provides an example of a simple and cost-effective intervention that changed caregiver perception and caregivers’ reported shared reading practice.


Keywords

literacy; shared-reading; early intervention; caregiver training; caregiver perceptions; South Africa; emergent literacy development

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