In 2013, Book Harvest launched Book Babies, a home visiting literacy coaching intervention that starts at birth and continues for five full years, through kindergarten entry. Our professional staff works alongside parents, at their kitchen tables and on their living room sofas, to identify their goals for their children, provide them with the resources, modeling, and information they need to thrive in their role as their child’s first and best teacher, and build social capital networks with other parents.
Our model is parent-led and parent-informed. Its unique dosage, frequency, duration, and affordability makes it a candidate for population-level scaling; it holds the potential to confer large-scale kindergarten-readiness, a critical milestone that has long eluded low-income families and families of color stuck in conditions of generational poverty and systemic racism.
The evidence base around birth-to-three interventions that close the equity gap is sorely lacking. This longitudinal Randomized Control Trial of Book Babies that has launched in two communities, with a sample size of 720, can help build the evidence base and provide needed insights into sustainable onramps to kindergarten readiness and long-term school success that must be within reach of every child and parent.
Book Harvest is engaging with HighScope Educational Research Foundation to conduct the longitudinal Randomized Control Trial evaluation of Book Babies. The two-site, $1.5 million study, conducted with Book Harvest in Durham, NC and with Imprints Cares in Winston-Salem, NC, examines the impact of the five-year Book Babies intervention on parents’ reading practices, children’s literacy and language skills, and kindergarten readiness. Interim findings will be available yearly, with the full final report expected in 2024.
HighScope Educational Research Foundation has a 50-year history of conducting ground-breaking research and developing innovative practices that address opportunity and achievement gaps. Its Center for Early Education Research and Evaluation is nationally renowned for its focus on the key factors of early education practice and policy that improve outcomes so that all children succeed today and throughout their adult lives. Its contributions to the field of early childhood education and development include the landmark Perry Preschool Study and Parents as Teachers Innovative Approaches to Literacy.
Principal Investigator Dr. Iheoma U. Iruka, PhD is HighScope’s Chief Research Innovation Officer and Director of The Center for Early Education Research and Evaluation. Prior to joining HighScope, Dr. Iruka was at the Buffet Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska and FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Dr. Iruka is engaged in projects and initiatives focused on how evidence-informed policies, system, and practices in early education can support optimal development and experiences for low-income, ethnic minority, and immigrant children.
She is Co-PI for the IES-funded early Learning Network, a large-scale and far-reaching study aimed at identifying malleable factors that support early learning in pre-K through Grade 3. She is also part of the team conducting evaluation on Educare, a consortium of schools focused on implementing high-quality early education programs for children birth to age 5, placed at risk of school failure, primarily due to poverty.
The Research Team also includes:
- Methodologist/Statistician: Dr. Fernando Andrade-Adaniya, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate & Methodologist, HighScope
- Project Director: Ximena Franco, Ph.D., Advanced Research Scientist, FPG Child Development Institute, UNC-Chapel Hill
- Methodological Advisor: Dr. Herb Turner, Ph.D., Founder, President, & Principal Scientist, ANALYTICA, Inc.
- Research Question #1: Is the development of the early language abilities of Book Babies children comparable to control homes?
- Research Question #2: Do Book Babies parents utilize the Dialogic Reading strategies modeled throughout the home visits to promote interactive reading with their children and support comprehension, as well as enhance attention to text in their daily reading routines?
- Research Question #3: Do Book Babies children show developmentally appropriate knowledge of emergent literacy skills such as print knowledge and phonological awareness?
- Research Question #4: Do Book Babies children meet literacy benchmarks at kindergarten entry? Do children enrolled in the book provision group meet literacy benchmarks at kindergarten entry?
To address these questions, we will use a random sample of 720 children (420 in Durham County and 300 in Forsyth County). We will follow the children from birth until entry into kindergarten and conduct surveys, observations, and direct assessments to assess children’s early literacy and language development.