Preschool intervention programs have been of great interest to educational researchers, since early childhood investments can yield robust long-term benefits. A recent research article, published in the current issue of Review of Educational Research, investigated the effectiveness of book giveaway programs for infants’ families.
Researchers focused on three major book giveaway programs: Bookstart in the UK, Reach Out and Read in the USA, and Imagination Library in the USA. Each program has different treatment dosages: Before a child turns five, Bookstart provides up to two books; Reach Out and Read provides up to ten books; and Imagination Library supplies up to 60 books. After filtering through the inclusion criteria, researchers included 44 studies in their meta-analysis: 11 concerning Bookstart, 18 concerning Reach Out and Read, and 15 concerning Imagination Library.
By providing easily accessible and age-appropriate books, book giveaway programs aim to motivate parents to begin reading to their children from infancy, which creates a beneficial home literacy environment. The main findings were:
- Results confirmed this hypothesis by showing that book giveaway programs have a statistically significant effect on children’s home literacy environments (ES=+0.31) and children’s literacy-related behavior and skills (ES=+0.29).
- The researchers also tested whether the number of books supplied was positively associated with children’s literacy development. Since all three programs had positive effects, and the difference in effect sizes among them was not statistically significant, this hypothesis was not supported.
The book giveaway intervention explicitly demonstrated higher effects in lower-socioeconomic households. The authors thus recommended book giveaway program implementation for less well-resourced families.
Source (Open Access): de Bondt, M., Willenberg, I. A., & Bus, A. G. (2020). Do book giveaway programs promote the home literacy environment and children’s literacy-related behavior and skills?. Review of Educational Research, 90(3), 349-375.