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A qualitative study of infants' responses to picture book reading in a day care setting

Chun-Mei Liao, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The purposes of the study were to describe how ten infants who ranged from five to thirteen months old responded to books in a day care setting over a five month period, to explore how teachers supported and/or constrained infants' response behaviors, and to understand teachers' and parents' beliefs about infants' capabilities to respond to books. The qualitative methods of participant-observation, formal and informal interviews, written field notes, audiotapes, videotapes, and photography were used for data collection. The results indicated that the infants were able to respond to books through facial expressions, body movements, and verbal responses. They were active in initiating book reading, and were able to show their book preferences. They tended to look for familiar objects and details in illustrations rather than pay attention to the whole content. After being exposed to book reading events, these infants developed positive attitude and skills toward reading. Gradually, book reading events were no longer solely controlled by the teachers, it became joint teacher-infant participation. The results showed that teachers supported infants' book reading in various ways. They made books accessible to the infants, and respected infants' different levels of interest in books. Through scaffolding and language extension, they provided a framework to allow infants to be involved in interactions during book reading. Meanwhile, teachers also encountered various constraints when engaging infants in book reading in a day care setting. The data also revealed that the parents exposed their infants to books at a very early age with various purposes. They made conscious efforts to make book reading enjoyable experiences for their children. Both parents and teachers perceived book reading as an important activity for infants and believed in infants' capabilities to respond to books. This study further elaborated implications for day care teachers and parents which build on its findings.

Subject Area

Preschool education|Literacy|Reading instruction

Recommended Citation

Liao, Chun-Mei, "A qualitative study of infants' responses to picture book reading in a day care setting" (1996). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9709622.