Multilingual Preschoolers’ Word Learning from Parent-Child Shared Reading of Informational and Narrative Books

Deborah Bergman Deitcher, Helen Johnson, Dorit Aram

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Young children around the world often grow up in situations where they hear, speak and read multiple languages. In the United States alone, nearly one in three children lives in a home where a language other than English is spoken (Child Trends Databank, 2016). In this chapter, we refer to a specific subset of the multilingual population – those who are acquiring two or more languages in the preschool years. More specifically, these are children who ‘are exposed to and speak only one language at home during the first one or two years of life and then attend daycare or preschool programs in which another language is used’ (Genesee, 2010: 1). These children are thus learning two or more languages sequentially, the first in their home setting, and the second by exposure in daycare or preschool settings. In this chapter we focus on the difficulties facing this population regarding vocabulary development, and the possibility of using shared book reading (SBR) as an intervention that can promote the learning of new words. We then present our study, which examined the use of both informational and narrative books in shared reading, and the impact that book genre has on multilingual children’s acquisition of target vocabulary in their home language through incidental exposure, as well as on the parent-child interaction surrounding the books. Lastly, we highlight the importance of including informational books in SBR repertoires in multilingual early childhood settings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMultilingual Literacy
EditorsEsther Odilia Breuer, Eva Lindgren, Anat Stavans, Elke Van Steendam
Place of PublicationBristol, Blue Ridge Summit
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781800410718
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameNew Perspectives on Language and Education

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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