“Dialogic” reading – actively involving your child in reading

ReadinginNomeThere’s reading. And then there’s “dialogic” reading. In dialogic reading, adults prompt children with questions and engage them in discussions while reading to them. It promotes give-and-take.

Dialogic reading was developed by Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, PhD, and the Stony Brook Reading and Language Project. “How we read to preschoolers is as important as how frequently we read to them,” Whitehurst writes for Reading Rockets.

“When most adults share a book with a preschooler, they read and the child listens. In dialogic reading, the adult helps the child become the teller of the story. The adult becomes the listener, the questioner, the audience for the child. No one can learn to play the piano just by listening to someone else play. Likewise, no one can learn to read just by listening to someone else read. Children learn most from books when they are actively involved.”

An adult, after successive readings of a book to a child, uses the PEER sequence:

P Prompts the child to say something about the book
“What does a dog say””
E Evaluates the child’s response
“That’s right, a dog says woof woof!”
E Expands the child’s response
“And a cat says meow!”
R Repeats the prompt
“What does a cow say?”


Bonny Headley, Assistant Professor of Early Childhood at University of Alaska Anchorage, provided this handout describing how to use dialogic reading with your “parent heart.”

What does dialogic reading look like in practice? See this video or check out this fact sheet.

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