Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Herold, Laura

Committee Member/Reader

Watson, Cynthia


Introduction: Literacy is a very important skill that begins to be acquired at birth. Most children start to develop pre-literacy skills by being read to by their parents or other adults around them. Being read aloud to can occur at many different ages and can start as early as infancy. As children grow, they interact and engage with books in different ways. This thesis aims to investigate the read-aloud behaviors of two different groups of young children, to reveal differences in engagement interactions among infants and young toddlers when being read picture books by their teacher.

Methods: The research and data collection portion of this thesis was completed at a campus childhood care center. The intervention took place over two months. In total, four different groups were studied each week, two small groups of infants, and two small groups of young toddlers. All children in reading sessions were read to by a teacher from their classroom. Every week the groups read two new picture books selected and provided by the research team. The groups were evaluated on their level of engagement through four categories: involvement, activeness, joint attention, and mood and playfulness. During live observations, each child was given a score from 1-5 in each engagement category based on the level of engagement demonstrated. When a moment of engagement occurred, the primary investigator made note of it using a time-sampling observation technique.

Results: The overall average engagement per engagement category was higher for young toddlers than for infants. For each book, variation was found in whether infants or young toddlers had a higher score for each category. There was also variety in the behaviors observed for each category.

Conclusion: Overall, it was found that there are differences in engagement levels of infants and young toddlers while they are being read picture books. Young toddlers were found to have higher average engagement levels in every category studied, but when the specific book reading sessions were considered, some books had average scores that were higher in some categories for infants. Infants were more likely to engage with books through physical engagement like grabbing or pointing, while young toddlers were more likely to engage with books through vocalizations and speaking with the teacher engaged in the read-aloud.


Infant, Young Toddler, Reading, Engagement