Dialogic Reading

How to actively involve your child in reading.

Dialogic reading is a concept based on the work of Dr. Grover Whitehurst and the Stony Brook Reading and Language Project. According to Dr. Whitehurst, "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."

The fundamental technique for an adult to use in reading to a child is called the PEER sequence, in which the adult:



Prompts the child to say something about the book
"What does a dog say?"


Evaluates the child's response
"That's right, a dog says woof woof!"


Expands the child's response
"And a cat says meow!"


Repeats the prompt
"What does a cow say?"


Here are some of the different kinds of prompts that adults can use in dialogic reading:



Completion prompts-the child is asked to complete sentences in familiar books.
"I do not like Green Eggs and Ham, I do not like them Sam I ___"


Recall prompts-the child is asked about what happened in a story that's already been read.
"Did Sam like Green Eggs and Ham?"


Open-ended prompts about the picture and the story.
"What is Sam doing in this picture?"


What, when, where, and why prompts for preschoolers.
"What is Sam holding?"


Distancing prompts-the child is asked to relate the book to events or situations in his own life.
"Look at Sam's doggy. Do you have a doggy?"

For more information, read "Dialogic Reading: An Effective Way to Read to Preschoolers" by Grover Whitehurst on the Reading Rockets website. 

Information on this page is from Dr. Whitehurst's 1992 study, "Dialogic Reading: An effective way to read to preschoolers."

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Parent Resources

A Prescription to Read 20 Minutes Every Day.

Suggested Reading:

Title: Big Dog... Little Dog
Author: P.D. Eastman
Reading To Your Three Year Old

Preschoolers can easily learn useful concepts, such as opposites, in classic children's books. 

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