Book Babies is a program developed and funded by Book Harvest to provide Medicaid-eligible children in Durham, North Carolina with books and a home visiting intervention starting at a child’s birth and continuing until age 5. At each home visit, Book Babies staff deliver 10 age-appropriate books and model different ways parents can engage with their children while reading. The goal of the program is to improve early literacy skills and help to increase children’s preparedness for entry into kindergarten.
Book Harvest is working in collaboration with the Center for Child and Family Policy (CCFP) at Duke to conduct a Randomized-Control Trial (RCT) study of this intervention. The RCT began in Durham with a new cohort of babies eligible to enter the program in January of 2017. The findings of the randomized controlled trial will help to build an evidence-base for the Book Babies intervention and assess its impacts on kindergarten readiness. This is critically important as the program is currently under expansion to other parts of the state. Imprints Cares (a community-based nonprofit), in partnership with Book Harvest, began full replication of the Book Babies program model and RCT in Forsyth County, NC. This expansion site is known as Book Babies at Imprints Cares and began in January of 2018.
To provide clear evidence of Book Babies’ effects, CCFP is tracking outcomes for three randomized groups: 1) Babies receiving the full Book Babies intervention of books and home visits (full intervention group); 2) Babies receiving books but no home visits (partial intervention control group); and 3) Babies receiving incentives only (no-intervention control group). A minimum of 840 babies will be recruited across both study sites (280 in each of the three groups) allowing researchers at CCFP to explore the effects of the home visiting intervention model as compared to the other two groups. Data regarding demographics, parental reading practices, and children’s emerging abilities in early language, including vocabulary comprehension, production, gestures, and grammar, will be collected three times per year, until children are 3 years of age, to examine differences among the groups. In years 3-5, the following measures will be collected from children at 3 and 4 years of age: The Adult-Child Interactive Reading Inventory (ACIRI), an observational measure designed to evaluate interactive reading; the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT-4) an assessment of receptive vocabulary; Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement (WCJ-IV); and the Get Ready To Read (GRTR-R), a test of pre-literacy skills. The goal is to follow these children to kindergarten entry, and ultimately to examine the possible impacts of the intervention on 3rd grade EOG scores.