Developing and enhancing early language through reading

The importance of the early years in the development of language and literacy skills is increasingly recognised. Interdisciplinary knowledge exchange around innovation in approaches to parental engagement and nurturing initial language is vital to supporting early development. Barriers to early learning also need consideration as well as the improvement of methods for scaffolding progress. So far, discussions about research on early intervention (and intervention evaluation), family learning and home-school connections have formed the basis for dialogue about effective early language and literacy support from developmental, educational and community perspectives.

In the videos below, researchers share their work on developing and enhancing early language:


Lynne Duncan, Psychology, University of Dundee


“Bookbug – evaluating the impact in Scotland”
Catriona Wallace, Head of Early Years, Scottish Book Trust

Catriona has a background in publishing and English Literature, and has a particular love of children’s books. She manages the Bookbug programme at Scottish Book Trust, which supports families to use stories, songs and rhymes to build relationships and develop pre-literacy skills.


“Better Start Bradford: a partnership experience of putting evidence into practice”
Michaela Howell, Director, Better Start Bradford

Michaela is Programme Director of Better Start Bradford, which is a £49m Big Lottery funded programme to help children in deprived parts of Bradford get the best start in life. It provides a range of projects for pregnant women and families with children aged under four, from which they will learn what works best to improve children’s emotional and social development, communication and language development and their nutrition.


“Busy bees, worms and rainbows”
Kim McRae & Lynne Blair, One Parent Families Scotland

Kim and Lynne work for One Parent Families Scotland, which aims to encourage and enable parents across Scotland to make the most of the opportunities available to them so they can flourish as happy, healthy and achieving families. One Parent Families Scotland provides help to all single parent families; mums, dads, young parents and kinship carers.


“The poverty attainment gap: Insights for the early years context”
Edward Sosu, Education, University of Strathclyde

Edward is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education, University of Strathclyde. His current research is predominantly focused on exploring how socioeconomic disadvantage influences educational and psychological trajectories from childhood. Edward was the lead author of the influential Joseph Rowntree Foundation report on Closing The Attainment Gap In Scottish Education.


“Designing interventions at the foundation of reading comprehension”
Claudine Bowyer-Crane, Education, University of York

Claudine is a Senior Lecturer in the Psychology in Education Research Centre at the University of York. Her research mainly focuses on the development and evaluation of interventions for children with early language difficulties. She is theme lead for the Language and Communication Workstream of the Better Start Bradford project


“Progress in closing the language attainment gap in the early years: eLIPS”
Lynne Duncan, Psychology, University of Dundee

Lynne is a Reader in Developmental Psychology at the University of Dundee. Her research examines language and reading development from early years into secondary school. This research has yielded insights into the development of meta-cognition, instructional effects on learning and the impact of social disadvantage on reading.She is currently developing the ELC observational tool, Early Language in Play Settings (eLIPS), in partnership with Fife Council.


“Learn with Fred: A Family Literacies Project”
Alison Low, Community Learning & Development, Dundee City Council

Alison is a Community Learning & Development Worker in Dundee City Council’s Adult Learning Team with a remit for family learning.  She previously worked for 10 years in the Adult Literacies section of the team.  Dundee City Council’s Adult Learning Team delivers on four themes – adult literacies, family learning, employability and ESOL.