Down syndrome, shared reading, emergent literacy skills, home literacy environment, additional educational needs
Shared reading, a key component of the home literacy environment, has well documented potential for the development of emergent literacy skills. This study explored shared reading interactions between parents and their young children (aged one to six years) with Down syndrome in Ireland. 191 parents completed an online questionnaire, providing quantitative and qualitative data on their practices, experiences and views in relation to shared reading with their children. Findings indicate that the majority of parents engage their children in shared reading regularly and commence shared reading at an early age. Social/emotional factors and enjoyment, followed by speech and language development, were the primary factors motivating parents to engage their children in shared reading. There was evidence of parental use of oral language and print referencing strategies during shared reading. There was, however, potential for greater use of a wider range of strategies. Many parents also described challenges which affect engagement in shared reading. The majority of participating parents indicated that they would welcome additional guidance in relation to shared reading with their children. It is recommended that a parental education programme, providing parents of young children with Down syndrome with advice and guidance on shared reading be implemented.