The project “3MR – making the most of the magic of reading” aims to increase the early literacy skills of children, especially those from culturally less advantaged backgrounds, by preparing professionals involved in early childhood education and parents to engage in reading aloud to children and in book-sharing practices in order to reduce the literacy gap among children from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.
In the last two decades, there have been several studies which have demonstrated that children from home environments which foster literacy practices (where parents frequently read aloud to their children) become better readers and learners. The link between reading comprehension skills and print exposure is usually described in term of spiral of causality:
Children who are more proficient in comprehension and reading and spelling skills read more; because of more print exposure, their comprehension and reading and spelling skills improve more with each year of education.
– Mol & Bus, 2011
On the contrary, in less culturally advantaged families, parents tend to read less, possess fewer books and probably consider reading as merely a pleasurable activity. This sociocultural gap in early literacy practices impairs school achievement. This is a gap that is not being filled during pre-school education (infant school, day-care, crèche, nurseries, kindergarten, etc.) as educators are not enough prepared to give specific attention to the children who need it the most in terms of literacy needs. Therefore, there is the need for training for early childhood professionals and volunteers that focusses both on reading with children, as well as involving their parents.