The effectiveness of a short interactive storybook-reading intervention programme delivered by a kindergarten teacher to develop language and print-concept skills was examined in 30 Hebrew-speaking kindergarten children exhibiting different levels of emergent literacy skills. Post-intervention, the intervention group showed a clear advantage over a control group on most measures, including vocabulary, morphology, phonological awareness and print concepts. Pre-test motivation to read was predictive of post-test performance in these same language and print-concept skills. The study suggests that a short intervention programme, using stories and embedded activities, can enhance language and print concepts in kindergarten children; and that motivation to read is equally important in the development of their language and literacy abilities.
An intervention programme to improve language and print concepts based on interactive storybook reading offers an effective way to develop kindergarteners’ language skills (oral and written) in Hebrew. In addition, morphological knowledge and motivation to acquire reading play an important part in the development of language skills, and should be embedded in intervention programmes aimed at cultivating language. The role of narrative skills in language intervention programmes should also be taken into consideration. The data from this study also indicate that teachers can promote children’s language and print-concept abilities and increase their chances of acquiring reading successfully prior to the start of formal reading instruction. Such programmes should be expanded to accommodate broader populations of children – not only those with reading difficulties and those who enter preschool with poor literacy skills. While our results are promising, longitudinal studies are needed to examine children’s long-range reading skills and motivation to read as outcomes of participating in an interactive storybook reading intervention programme in kindergarten.