The Importance of Shared Book Reading with Children

Reading to children is known to be vitally important for language development. However, while we are used to the traditional format of reading aloud to children while they sit and listen, it is important to actually encourage a dialogue with the child regarding the book. This technique of shared reading is known as “dialogic reading”.

Dialogic reading is interactive, and encourages the child’s engagement with the story, by making them the storyteller of the book. It involves asking open ended questions about the text, the pictures, the characters and the story itself.

There are many benefits to adopting the technique of dialogic reading during your next storytime with your child such as:

  • improving verbal fluency,
  • developing narrative skills,
  • defining new vocabulary,
  • improving print awareness, oral language and comprehension and,
  • Introducing story components

How to Encourage Dialogic Reading?

The fundamental reading technique to encourage dialogic reading is the PEER technique.


Prompt your child to say something about the book. Ask your child a question about something on the page. E.g: “what is this?”


Evaluate your child’s response. Is their answer correct? E.g: your child says, “a tree”, you then follow with “that’s right” (if the response was correct).


Expand your child’s response. This will help to build their vocabulary. This step also allows you to correct your child’s response if incorrect. E.g: “it is a TALL tree”


Repeat the prompt. Have your child repeat your expansion or even re-reading the book and repeating the prompt once again. E.g: “can you say that?”

There are 5 types of prompts used in dialogic reading which can be remembered as CROWD.


Completion prompts. This prompt involves leaving a blank at the end of the sentence and allowing your child to fill it in. These are typically used in books with repetitive phrases. E.g. “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll ………”


Recall prompts. These are questions that are used in a book that your child has already previously read. They encourage story retell, understanding the plot of the story as well as sequencing of the events.  E.g. “can you tell me what happened to the 3 pigs in this story?”


Open ended prompts. These prompts focus on the pictures in the book. It aims for the child to notice the details and check their comprehension. E.g. “tell me what is happening in this picture.”


Wh prompts. They usually begin with “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, “why” and “how” questions. These prompts help in building vocabulary. E.g. “what is this? And what is it used for?”


Distancing prompts. Asking questions that relate the story to the child’s life. This enables the child to make a connection between the book and their own personal life. E.g. “What type of house do you live in? Is it straw, wood or brick?”

When engaged in dialogic reading it is important to:

  • Keep reading fun and light
  • Vary the types of prompts used
  • Allow your child to select the book and allow them to feel like they are in charge
  • Encourage your child to be creative in their response.

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