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 United Nations and OECD reports [2], and is endorsed by the Office of Early Childhood Education [3].

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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 experienced educators in ECE services, schools and community organisations, 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 competencies they need to function confidently and effectively within their communities and wider society.
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. For those in the Early Childhood Education sector in New Zealand, the following information was published in the Ministry of Education Early Learning Bulletin | He Pānui Kōhungahunga | Update – 18 August 2022:

Applications open for Early Reading Together®
Early learning services, puna reo, kōhanga reo and playgroups can apply for funding to deliver Early Reading Together®.
Early Reading Together® is a strengths-based, literacy intervention that supports parents and whānau to learn strategies to positively support their children’s reading at home. ...
The programme has the same strong basis in research evidence as Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi and provides a solid foundation for literacy development for pre-schoolers and five-year-olds. ... [Learn More]

2. Please see International Citations relating to Early Reading Together®.

3. Early Reading Together® has been endorsed by Dr Sarah Alexander, Chief Advisor of the Office of Early Childhood Education. The OECE is the lead public advisor on early childhood education and care, covering and representing the whole early childhood sector in New Zealand. Quoting from the Early Reading Together® webpage:

This programme is very highly recommended to all ECE Services. It is a proven family language/literacy workshop-based programme to support young children in Aotearoa New Zealand.