Experiences from conception to age six have the most important influence of any time in the life

Literacy Review

Caregiver-child interactions that promote early literacy: A systematic review

Summary of the Project

A wide range of successful literacy interventions have been delievered by health care professionals, educators, teachers, and parents in primary health care, institutional care, educational and home settings. For young children (infant to preschool), literacy interventions appear to positively influence the frequency of parents' reading to children, early literacy and children's language development. Specific parent/caregiver-child interactions affecting literacy include book sharing, anticipatory guidance, coaching, positive feedback and focusing on phonological structure of printed speech.

While these findings shed light on language and literacy attainmnet, to date, no systematic review of the research has been found that identifies the caregiver-child interactions that exert the largest positive effect on children's literacy skill development. No comprehensive, systematic reviews have been identified that specifically: (1) examine interventions that promote (as opposed to treat) language development and literacy in young children, distinguishing between children with and without disorder, (2) focus on caregiver-child interactions that positively influence early linguistic and cognitive abilities, and (3) generate empirical evidence based on rigorous, problem-focused, theoretically grounded research that demonstrate positive, replicable effects on language development and literacy.

Members of the Team


Primary Authors:

Nicole Letourneau
Faculty of Nursing
University of Calgary


Elizabeth Sloat
Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy
University of New Brunswick


Joan Beswick
Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy
University of New Brunswick


Sharon Rich
Faculty of Education
University of New Brunswick


Julie Easley
Interdisciplinary Studies
University of New Brunswick


Natalie Lutwick
Faculty of Education, CRISP
University of New Brunswick


Natalie Weigum
Faculty of Science
University of New Brunswick


Progress to Date

This review has received one-year funding from the Canadian Language & Literacy Research Network (CLLRNET). The title has been registered with the Cochrane Network and a draft of the protocol has been completed.