Beyond language: Impacts of shared reading on parenting stress and early parent–child relational health.

Caitlin F. Canfield, Elizabeth B. Miller, Daniel S. Shaw, Pamela Morris, Angelica Alonso, Alan L. Mendelsohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined the interrelated and longitudinal impacts of parent–child shared book reading, parenting stress, and early relational health, as measured by both parental warmth and parent sensitivity, from infancy to toddlerhood. To extend findings from previous studies of collateral effects that have been conducted in parenting interventions, we examined parenting behaviors in a broader context to determine whether shared book reading would confer collateral benefits to the parent and parent–child relationship beyond those expected (i.e., language and literacy). It was hypothesized that positive parent–child interactions, such as shared reading, would have positive impacts on parent outcomes such as parenting stress, parental warmth, and sensitivity. The sample consisted of 293 low-income mothers and their children who participated in a randomized controlled trial. Shared book reading, parenting stress, and parental warmth were assessed when children were 6 and 18 months old. We computed a series of cross-lagged structural equation models to examine longitudinal interrelations among these three factors. Results indicated that shared book reading at 6 months was associated with increases in observed and reported parental warmth and observed sensitivity and decreases in parenting stress at 18 months, controlling for baseline risk factors and treatment group status. These findings suggest that early parent–child book reading can have positive collateral impacts on parents’ stress and the parent–child relationship over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1305-1315
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2020


  • parenting
  • parent–child interaction
  • parent–child relationship
  • shared reading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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