Association Between Television Viewing and Parent-Child Reading in the Early Home Environment

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This study examines whether there is an association between time spent by preschoolers in parent-child shared book reading versus TV viewing in two distinct samples.


Data were used from both the preschool wave of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Cohort, a nationally representative sample of 4-year-olds (N = 8900), as well as a low-income, rural sample of children enrolled in the Preschool Experience in Rural Classrooms study (N = 407). Information regarding frequency of shared book reading and daily TV consumption was obtained through caregiver report. A regression approach was used to estimate how the frequency of parent-child book reading accounted for variance in TV consumption. Estimated marginal mean values were then compared for the amount of TV viewed by children who were reported as being read to daily, frequently, occasionally, and not at all.


Parent–child book reading was negatively associated with the amount of TV viewed by children in both samples. Specifically, television consumption was significantly lower for children who were read to daily as compared to those who were read to occasionally. This inverse association was not moderated by contextual factors including maternal education, household size, and composition, or time spent in nonparental care.


This study provides empirical support for an inverse association between TV viewing and parent-child book reading activities. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.

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