Have you ever thought about how you read to your young child? A child’s experience with books plays an important role in their language development, reading development, and overall school readiness. How you read to your child is just as important as how often you read to your child. Dialogic reading is a great way to encourage positive and meaningful reading experiences with your child!

What is it?

An interactive shared picture book reading practice designed to enhance a young child’s language and literacy skills. It is more than the adult simply reading the words on the page while the child listens. It is a conversation between an adult and a child about a book that teaches the child to be the storyteller.

Why is it important?

It enhances skills in a variety of school readiness areas, including vocabulary, sentence structure, comprehension, story structure, sustained attention, and more! Research indicates that dialogic reading is effective for improving language skills that prepare children for reading on their own.

How do I do it?

The fundamental technique is the PEER sequence. To do this, the adult:

  • Prompts the child to say something about the book
  • Evaluates the child’s response
  • Expands the child’s response by rephrasing and adding information to it
  • Repeats the prompt to make sure the child has learned from the expansion

For example, while reading a story about Clifford , you can point to Clifford and ask “What is this?” (the prompt). Your child may say “dog”, and you follow with “That’s right!” (the evaluation), “It’s a big red dog.” (the expansion). “Can you say big red dog?” (the repetition).

Now you’re probably asking “How do I prompt my child?” Remember CROWD. There are 5 types of prompts:

  • Completion Prompts – Leave a blank at the end of a sentence to encourage your child to fill it. These prompts are typically used in books with rhymes or repetitive phrases. For example, you might say “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you…”, and let your child fill in “see”.
  • Recall Prompts – These are questions about what happened in the book. For example, you might say “What happened to the little pig in this story?” Recall prompts help your child understand the plot of the story and describe the sequence of events. You can use these prompts during the story and at the end.
  • Open-ended prompts – These prompts focus on pictures in the books. For example, while looking at a page in a book that your child is familiar with, you can say “Tell me what is happening in the picture.” These prompts help your child formulate their own phrases or sentences about the story.
  • Wh- prompts – This type of prompt begins with a what, where, when, who, why, or how question. They are similar to open-ended questions, as they typically focus on pictures or events in the story. For example, you can point to a picture and ask “What is this?” or “Where is he going?”
  • Distancing prompts – These prompts encourage your child to relate what is happening in the book to their own experiences outside the book. For example, when reading a book about animals, you can ask “Remember when we went to the zoo? What kinds of animals did we see there?”

REMEMBER: Reading should be a FUN activity that you and your child can enjoy together. Dialogic reading is a great technique to use, but don’t get bogged down by asking too many questions. Also, be sure that your prompts are appropriate for your child’s age and that you give your child plenty of time to respond!

Here is a handout for you to print or save to your phone to refer to later!