Early Reading Together® programme

Early Reading Together® is a workshop programme which helps parents/whānau of young children (babies to 5 and 6 year olds) to support their children's language and literacy development.

Early Reading Together® was developed and first implemented in 1983 by Jeanne Biddulph MNZM, and evolved from the implementation of Reading Together®, a workshop programme which: helps parents provide effective support for their children, especially when their children (usually from 5½ years onwards) are reading to their parent(s) at home; was developed within an experimental action-research project at Canterbury University in 1982; has been widely implemented throughout New Zealand since 1982; and has been shown to raise children's reading achievement in a significant and sustained manner.

Early Reading Together® meets the need expressed by educators, librarians and parents/whānau for an effective family language/literacy programme to support younger children. It incorporates key features and processes of Reading Together®, is supported by the New Zealand Ministry of Education [1], has been cited in an OECD report [2] and is endorsed by ChildForum [3].

The resources for the programme can be ordered here.

Early Reading Together®

Key Points

Early Reading Together® Logo

Early Reading Together® is:

  • designed to enhance the support which parents/whānau provide for their children's language and literacy development
  • a programme comprising 3 workshops over 3 weeks (each workshop lasts 1 hour and 15 minutes)
  • specifically designed to support children and parents from diverse language/literacy, cultural, educational and socio-economic backgrounds
  • implemented by early childhood educators and/or junior school teachers, in collaboration with community librarians
  • practical, user friendly, enjoyable and manageable for teachers, parents, librarians and children
  • effective when it is implemented as described in the fully-scripted Workshop Leader's Handbook
  • based on a sound theoretical and research framework.

Early Reading Together® helps parents to:

  • Understand more fully the ways in which talking with young children and reading to them (from the time they are babies) helps the child's language and literacy development
  • Explore additional ways of supporting children's language and reading development when they are reading stories and rhymes, and singing songs together
  • Find out more about books, rhymes and songs which are suitable for young children and enjoyable for them
  • Borrow books and other resources from libraries, and access support from librarians.

Overall and longer term goal of Early Reading Together®:

  • To help all children to develop a love of language and reading and the range of language and literacy abilities they need to function confidently and effectively within their communities and wider society.

Learn More

Getting Started:
A FAQ about getting started with Early Reading Together® is available here.

Early Reading Together® and Reading Together®:
A PDF comparing Early Reading Together® and Reading Together® is available here.

Our Blog:
Our Blog contains some posts about Early Reading Together®, including A Message from Jeanne Biddulph. Learn More

Inquiry into engaging parents in the education of their children

Best Practice

The Early Reading Together® programme is a best practice example of an approach that enables parents and communities to support their children's learning.

For further information (including effective strategies for engaging parents, families, whānau, aiga, and communities in formal education), please see Jeanne Biddulph's Submission on the Parliamentary Inquiry into engaging parents in the education of their children.


1. Early Reading Together® is included (alongside Reading Together®) by the NZ Ministry of Education in the 'School- and community-initiated supplementary supports' available here.

2. Taguma, M., Litjens, I. & Makowiecki, K. (2012). Quality Matters in Early Childhood Education and Care: United Kingdom (England). OECD Report. Quoting from page 71:

Assisting parents to provide qualitative home learning environments
In New Zealand, the Early Reading Together® initiative has been implemented. It is a programme which helps parents of young children (infants to six-year-olds) to support their children's language and literacy development at home and is specifically designed to support children and parents from diverse language/literacy, cultural, educational and socioeconomic backgrounds. ... Its results include increased competence of parents in assisting their children at home with reading.

3. Early Reading Together® has been endorsed by Dr Sarah Alexander, CEO of ChildForum, which advises and provides information and support to more than 4000 early childhood services across the country, along with teacher education providers, researchers, and interested groups and individuals. Sarah is author of the Quality Teaching Early Foundations: Best Evidence Synthesis, commissioned by the NZ Ministry of Education.

About Us

The Biddulph Group provides professional support and research-based resources for principals, teachers, early childhood educators, librarians, parents/whānau and children.

Our Work

Our work supports the following areas:
» language and literacy education
» mathematics education
» science education


The Reading Together® programme is "the closest thing to a silver bullet we've ever seen", says Manurewa Central School Principal Dr Laurie Thew.

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