mom reading with daughterPreschoolers have a lot to say!  You can help them explore their vocabulary and language when reading to them.

Dialogic Reading is a very powerful language facilitation method for children.  It is a way of sharing books with your youngster that involves them in the experience and that has tremendous benefits for the child. Instead of just reading a book to the child, engage them in a conversation by talking about what you see in the pictures. 


There are 3 simple steps in Dialogic Reading:

  1. Ask "What" questions - point to something in the pictures and say, "What is this?" or "What do you call this?" Make sure to repeat what your child says. They will feel affirmed when you say, "Yes, that is a duck!"
  2. Expand on what you child says. Keep it short and simple. You want to build on their phrases just a little so your child can imitate what you say. The conversation can continue, "What is the duck doing?"  "Yes, he is swimming in the pond!"
  3. Take it a step further and start asking open-ended questions. Make sure your child is comfortable answering the "what" questions because you want to encourage them to use their imaginations. Open-ended questions do not have right or wrong answers, but they will send your child the message that you want to know what they think and give the child a chance to use the vocabulary you have working so hard to build!

The key here is for it to be FUN! So don't labor over it. Maybe try only on a few pages of a book your preschooler is familiar with and then try branching out. Maybe you just alternate pages during your storytime.

Research shows that using Dialogic Reading is effective in accelerating vocabulary development and encourages children to use longer phrases. Children who are read to in this way to better on languages development tests and you will be able to see results in only a few short weeks!

Librarians say, How we read to our children is as important as how often we read to them. Talking about books is just as important as reading the book. Our job is to help our children learn and understand new words. There is a great video online; "Talking about Books" from the Washington Learning Systems is both informational and instructional. If you are unsure about how to do dialogic reading, make sure to take some time to watch it to see (and hear) demonstrations of parents talking about book with their kids.

Not sure where your preschooler is at in her progress toward reading? Try a Reading Checkup for Preschoolers available on the Reading is Fundamental website.


Further Reading:

A Parent's Guide to Reading with Your Child - written by the National Center for Family Literacy

Dialogic Reading - Multnomah County Library System

Dialogic Reading: An Effective Way to Read to Preschoolers By: Grover J. (Russ) Whitehurst (1992)