Dialogic Reading

Posted on June 12, 2020

by Megan Roseberry

Reading with your child is one of the best ways to prepare them for school and help them develop early literacy skills. Besides allowing for bonding and cuddling time, reading can be both educational and engaging. One way to accomplish this is through a practice called dialogic reading, which creates a more participatory experience for the child. Dialogic reading occurs when the adult helps a child, or a small group of children, become the teller(s) of the story. Dialogic reading encourages children to interact with stories, which allows them to practice concepts such as comprehension, critical thinking, and building vocabulary.


Here’s a video showing adults and children reading using dialogic reading methods.


One method of dialogic reading is called the P. E. E. R. method. P. E. E. R. stands for:

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 prompts to find out if the child has learned from the expansion.


Oftentimes, children like to hear books more than once and that’s OK!. Each time you reread a book, your questions can become somewhat more detailed with each reading if the child shows understanding and mastery of simpler questioning. 


There are several ways to ask children questions while reading. This article describes five different questioning techniques: completion prompts, recall prompts, open-ended prompts, wh-prompts, and distancing prompts. Each of these prompts focuses on a particular part of the story. For instance, completion prompts to ask a child to finish a sentence, usually sentences that have repetition or rhyme. Recall prompts require a child to remember something from a book that has been previously read. With open-ended prompts, children are asked to interpret what is happening in a picture of a story. Wh-prompts cover a lot of ground – the who, what, when, where, why, and how of a story. The Wh-prompts can lead to many different types of questions such as “What is this character doing?,” “What do you think will happen next?,” or “Where is the dog?” Lastly, distancing prompts necessitate children making connections between books and their own lives. For example, if a parent is reading a book about playing at the park or flying a kite, they might ask their child to recall when they participated in these events in their own lives. This helps make reading more meaningful and personable for children. 


It should be noted that adults should not overuse prompts or even ask a question on every page. This interrupts the natural flow of books and makes stories disjointed and hard to follow for children. Keep reading fun while also including intentional educational opportunities! Children love to read with caring adults; enjoy this time together and help children develop their skills and prepare for success in school!


Want to learn more about how to best implement dialogic reading, including seeing examples of questions to ask as well as videos of the practice in action? Feel free to visit the following websites for more information!


Dialogic Reading: Active Reading With Young Children

Iowa Reading Research Center

Research Parent

Megan Roseberry

Megan Roseberry

Megan, Community Engagement Librarian, Unicorn Fanatic, The Most Sparkly Librarian – any of these titles will do. When not bringing the Van Halen to early literacy classes or spreading the joy of reading to youngsters throughout the community, one can find her enjoying copious amounts of carbohydrates, binge-watching random television shows and movies, pretending to be a professional photographer, dancing around and singing when no one is watching (okay, maybe when people are watching, too), and thoroughly enjoying life with a never-ending smile!
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