Literacy Conference 2022 - Dr Rachael Levy

Dr Rachael Levy, Associate Professor at University College London, Institute of Education.

By Laura Lodge on 17 Mar 2022



Dr Rachael Levy is an Associate Professor at University College London, Institute of Education, working at the University of Sheffield for nine years. Her research and teaching interests focus on young children’s reading, which include children’s perceptions of reading and factors that influence motivation and engagement with reading. Rachael regularly reviews papers for a variety of literacy and early childhood journals. She is a member of the ESRC Peer Review College and until recently was the editor for the United Kingdom Literacy Association minibooks series. Rachael is also author of the book Young Children Reading: At Home and at School, which explores ways we can help future generations to become literate and challenges accepted perspectives on reading.

Summary of Keynote: No-one would sleep if we didn’t have books; understanding shared reading practices in families

We know that shared reading activity in the home supports young children’s language development, however it is also recognised that not all families read with their children and that interventions to promote shared reading are often unsuccessful. In this presentation I argue that what is missing from many reading interventions is an understanding of what families already do and how shared reading activity fits within the construct of everyday family life. This has revealed a need to explore what currently happens in homes and understand what motivates or prevents parents from reading with their children.

Drawing on a recent ESRC-funded study into shared reading practices with 29 families in two English cities, this presentation demonstrates how for many families, shared reading is already a part of ‘doing family’. However for some families, and perhaps particularly those from low socio-economic groups, there is a need for certain conditions to be met if shared reading practices are to be maintained or, in some cases, occur at all. I argue that in order to support more families in reading regularly with their children, there is a need to firstly understand how different families use shared reading activity within their own individual and everyday family lives.


You can find Rachael on Twitter @DrRachaelLevy1

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