Readingstart

An Interactive Reading Technique

In Uncategorized on October 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm

We are all aware of the benefits of reading aloud with children, and if you were in doubt, we hope this blog will convince you. However, research shows that it’s not only the frequency of reading aloud that leads to cognitive and linguistic gains, but also, and more importantly, the quality of the shared  reading. Haden, Reese and Fivush (1996) identified three naturally occurring reading styles based on observations of shared reading activities. A describer style interaction is fairly low demand and focuses on describing and labeling pictures. This type of interaction occurs most often with younger children building a vocabulary base, and has been shown to lead to a growth in vocabulary. Comprehender style interactions require more of a child and are typically found to occur with children who now have a grasp of literacy. The style involves asking questions about the meaning of a story, making inferences and predicting story events. The final type of interaction is called a performance-oriented style. This involves introducing a story, reading it through without interruptions and then discussing it. Performance-oriented questions usually focus on providing answers as well as the reasoning behind them.

Quality interactive reading varies the style of interaction and provides children with the opportunity to stretch various cognitive muscles. One method of interactive reading that makes use of the variations found in naturally occurring reading styles has proven to be very effective. Developed at the Stony Brook Reading and Language Laboratory by Dr. Grover J. Whitehurst, Dialogic Reading has been found to lead to significant gains in language skills (Valdez-Menecha & Whitehurst, 1992; Whitehurst et al., 1988; Payne et al., 1994). Dialogic Reading makes a listener out of the adult and a story teller out of the child. It is an interactive method that relies on something called a PEER sequence to govern the interaction between reader and child. While reading together, the adult does the following:

–          PROMPTS the child say something about the story

–          EVALUATES what the child has said

–          EXPANDS on what the child has said by rephrasing and adding information

–          REPEATS the prompt to ensure that the child learns from the expansion

(A PDF example and handy PEER sequence chart is available HERE.)

The level of a reading can be altered by varying the kinds of prompts one uses. Whitehurst provides a handy mnemonic to remember various types of prompts available. All you have to do is remember the word CROWD:

–          Completion prompts – leave a blank at the end of a sentence for your child to fill

–          Recall prompts – ask questions about what happened in the story you just read

–          Open-ended prompts – ask your child to tell you what is happening in a picture

–          Wh-prompts – ask where, what, when, why and how questions

–          Distancing prompts – have your child relate story events to life events

(To download a CROWD chart with examples, click HERE.)

The most important thing to remember about Dialogic Reading is that it is essentially a conversation between an adult and child about a book they’re enjoying. As Whitehurst explains, mix up prompts with straight readings, vary what you do and make sure to pay attention to your child’s capabilities and interests. And, don’t forget to just have fun with it!   


1. Payne, A., Whitehurst, G.,& Angell, A. (1994). The Role of Home Literacy Environment in the Development of Language Ability in Preschool Children from Low-Income Families. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 9, 427-440.

2. Whitehurst, G., Falco F.L., Longian, C., Fischel, J.E., DeBarsyshe, B.D., Valdez-Menchaca, M.C., & Caufield, M.B. (1988). Accelerating Language Development through Picture-Book Reading. Developmental Psychology, 24, 552-559.

3. Valdez-Menchaca, M.C., &Whitehurst, G. (1992). Accelerating Language Development through Picture-Book Reading: A Systematic Extension to Mexican Day Care. Developmental Psychology. 28, 1106-1114.

4. Dialogic Reading: An Effective Way to Read to Preschoolers by Grover J. Whitehurst (1992). Online

  1. Congratulatons on the blog! I found it easy to read, precise, and useful.
    Go RT!

  2. Dear Rania,

    Your piece on Dialogic Reading is excellent because it is user friendly, easy to understand for those who do not share your professional expertise in this area and, most of all, because you make reading with younger children real fun. Thank you so much for the advice that all parents should find very useful indeed. Please keep these articles coming. I look forward to your next one. Thank you again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s