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Analysing the data

The interviews were audio recorded on a digital recording device and then transcribed verbatim by the member of the research team who had carried out the interview. Given the exploratory nature of this study, and the fact that little is known about the ways in which shared reading operates in families, we had to choose an analytical framework that allowed us to simultaneously reduce and manage the data, while also allowing for unforeseen findings to emerge. We recognised that themes do not simply ‘emerge’ from the data, and that analysis is an active process requiring deep engagement with the data (Braun &c Clarke, 2013). Once transcription was complete, data were analysed in three stages: open coding, clustering of codes around categories and thematic coding (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Open coding and thematic coding were conducted by three researchers independently (Rachael, Jenny and Mel). In each case, transcripts were read, and re-read, and each researcher identified themes based on the research aims and questions. We then compared the resulting themes; there was substantial consistency among the researchers, which we took to signify that our themes were valid. We then worked together to develop a ‘final’ set of codes; however, given the cyclical and recursive nature of this research, we engaged in further stages of data analysis for quite some time. For example, having identified links between parents’ own reading and the shared reading they engaged in with their children, we began to notice that there was a subset of parents in this sample who identified themselves as being ‘non-readers’, or reported that they disliked reading, but who went on to have strong shared reading relationships with their own children. This discovery provoked a fresh cycle of data analysis in order to try to understand this further.

We developed a number of codes during the first few cycles of data analysis, which were:

  • • Parents’ perspectives on school
  • • Parents’ experiences of reading as a child (including being read to)
  • • Parents’ reading as an adult
  • • Shared reading relationship with child
  • • Siblings
  • • How parents and children read together
  • • Daily routines
  • • Bedtime routines
  • • Technology
  • • Access to books
  • • Parents’ perceptions of value of shared reading
  • • Cultural and ethnicity
  • • Role of gender
  • • Extended family
  • • Responsibility and guilt
  • • Outside authorities (e.g. health visitors, teachers)
  • • Reading to babies
  • • Play
  • • Religion
  • • Future aspirations for child.

In some cases, a code was sufficient to use through the whole process of the analysis; however, in other cases, codes needed to be refined and developed. For example, ‘Parents’ experiences of reading as a child’ did not support the complexity of parents’ own reading as a child and required the code to be expanded to include:

  • • Parent reading with own parents
  • • Parent reading to self as a child
  • • Parent reading at school
  • • Parents’ views of schooled reading.


Previous research into shared reading in homes has tended to focus on the ways in which family reading practices support children’s language development, but very little research has attempted to understand the factors that motivate or inhibit shared reading activity in the home. Given the urgent need for research that talks to parents about their everyday lives and seeks to understand how shared reading may, or may not fit within this, this chapter has presented an overview of the methods used to design a study that has explored shared reading in families by talking to participants in their own homes about this. It has also given an overview of some of the issues and complexities that arise when designing research to explore participants’ lived experiences, along with description of the measures we took in this study to address these.

Recognising that narrative methods can be ‘productive in providing a picture of how people “do”, “display” and commemorate family practices over time’ (Phoenix & Brannen, 2014: 22), this study has encouraged parents of young children to talk about the stories of their everyday lives, as well as past experiences and perspectives, in order to shine light on the ways in which shared reading features in homes, and explain why parents do, and do not read with their children. The following chapters now report the findings from this study beginning with the ways in which shared reading operated as an everyday practice in homes.

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