Improving Early Literacy Skills


Reading aloud to children has many benefits, but low-income families in the United States often struggle to find the time.

Research shows that cognitive development in early childhood is best promoted if parents create learning opportunities for their children in the home environment. Reading aloud is a key activity. Unfortunately, many young low income children in the United States are not read to on a regular basis. Some parents find it challenging to carve out time each day to engage with their children in educational activities, and parents’ busy lives make it hard to create and stick to a routine of reading and other learning activities.

Project CAPER

Children and Parents Engaged in Reading




Project PACT

Parents and Children Together




Work at Scale

An Evaluation of the Big Word Club Vocabulary Program




Project CAPER

Children and Parents Engaged in Reading (CAPER) is an eleven-month reading intervention that uses behavioral tools to increase the amount of time English and Spanish speaking parents spend reading to their pre-school-aged children, with the aim of improving children’s literacy skills. Generously supported by Valhalla Charitable Foundation.

For more information please see the link below:
Children and Parents Engaged in Reading (CAPER) Overview

Project PACT

The PACT (Parents and Children Together) Study was a six-week experimental intervention developed for English- and Spanish-speaking parents with children enrolled in Head Start programs in Chicago. Participating parents borrowed an electronic tablet with an application called A Story Before Bed, a recordable storybook app with over 500 books in its digital library. Generously supported by an anonymous foundation and the Center for Human Potential and Public Policy.

For more information please see the link below:
Parents and Children Together (PACT) Overview

Big Word Club (BWC) Collaboration

In partnership with J-PAL North American at MIT, we evaluated the effectiveness of the Big Word Club (BWC), a web-based program of activities intended to help elementary school-aged children learn new vocabulary words by introducing one new word per day throughout the school year. To complete this evaluation, we collaborated with 47 schools in Colorado, Arizona, and Texas.

For more information please see the link below:
Executive Summary of Evaluation

Flash Facts

And demonstrated that parents focused on the present were the ones who gained the most.

NBER Working Paper 

Using Behavioral Insights to Increase Parental Engagement


Journal of Human Resources 

Using Behavioral Insights to Increase Parental Engagement: The PACT Intervention


Project PACT Video

Behavioral Tools Can Promote Parent Investments in Children’s Education


Chicago Harris Alumni Magazine

Parents and Children Together (PACT)


UChicago News 

Texts and tablets more than double time parents spend reading to kids


The Hechinger Report 

Text-based tips may help parents and preschoolers learn


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