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Dialogic Reading: Make Learning From Books Fun and Infinite

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Reading often to our children come with its own benefits but do you know how we read to our children is as important as how often we read to them? 


Well, here is a reading method called the DIALOGIC READING that doubles, if not, triples the benefits of reading to young children.


We have been using this method to read to our son since he was 6 months old and I can’t tell you how much he has been benefited by it. 




Well, this method of reading was first introduced by Grover Whitehurst, the ex-director of the Institution of Education Science of the United States Department of Education to help children from low-income families enhance their school readiness, however, over the years it was found to be so powerful that it is now being used in preschools all around the world.


Unlike the traditional method of reading, in which the parent reads a book and the child gets to be a passive listener, in the Dialogic method, the parent invites the child to be an ACTIVE PARTICIPANT so, they can both READ TOGETHER! In short, the parent, either, asks questions or engages the child in a conversation, and does something called the PEER sequence (Prompt, Evaluate, Expand, Repeat).


Here are a few examples on how you can use the PEER sequence:

(Please remember, there are no hard and fast rules, so you can tailor PEER according to your style/need)


Step 1: PROMPT:

In this step, you ask your child something about what is being read. For example–

  1. Ask ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘why’, ‘when’ ‘how’ type of questions.
  2. Ask your child to relate the picture/word in the book with an outside experience.
  3. Ask your child to fill in the blank.
  4. Ask an open-ended question.
  5. Ask about the story plot or sequence if you have read the book already.



For children who are verbal, you can ask questions like ‘When does the sun set? Who is a doctor?’ ‘What do we do when we get a tooth ache?’ ‘How does a fan work?’ ‘Why do we eat?’ ‘Do you remember we saw a fire truck last night, where do you think it was going?’ ‘Can you tell me what is happening in this picture?’ ‘What do you think will happen to Goldilocks at the end?’


For infants, you can simply have them point to a certain picture in the book. ‘Where is the red car?’ ‘Where is the ball?’



Prompts like these give you lots and lots of opportunity to increase COMPREHENSION, broaden KNOWLEDGE, stimulate IMAGINATION, encourage CRITICAL THINKING and build LANGUAGE SKILLS.


Although this method of reading is broadly used to build language skills and comprehension, a little tweak can encourage little ones to pay more attention to the written text, thereby, increase their phonemic awareness and eventually set them on the path to becoming little readers. 


  1. Spell/sound out a word or two.
  2. Point to words that begin or end with the same letter sound.
  3. Blend/Segment words.
  4. Use a phonic rule or two once in a while.



A-P-P-L-E (AE-P-P-L), Pan—Man, does it rhyme? Can you point to a thing that starts with the ‘f’ sound? Race—has a silent e.



Prompts like these create ALPHABET/PHONEMIC AWARENESS in little ones and eventually motivate them TO READ ON THEIR OWN.


Reading aloud WITH children is known to be the single most important activity for building knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read.” Marilyn Adams


  1. Count, compare and contrast.


Example: ‘How many cars are there in the picture?’ ‘Which is taller, the dog or the cat?’ ‘Which page has more cars?’ ‘There are 2 red balls and 2 green balls, so 2+2=4 balls’ (use fingers and make it look like a game)



Prompts like these undoubtedly build math skills.



The second step is to evaluate your child’s response. Praise and encourage, if your child gets it right. On the other hand, if your child doesn’t, correct without saying that your child has made a mistake.

Time to Evaluate


Example:  “That does look a lot like a van but it is actually an ambulance, see that red cross and the siren?”


Step 3: EXPAND:

The secret to building vocabulary, or language in general, is EXPANSION. Always, add more information to what your child says! 

expand your child's answer


Example: If you child says, it is a fire truck, say, “Yes! It is a big red fire truck with four black wheels” 


Step 4: REPEAT:

Repetition is the mother of all learning! So, the final step is to repeat the prompt as well as the expansion and encourage your child to repeat after you.


Example: What do you think it is? Well, it is a “big red fire truck with four black wheel. Do you want to repeat after mommy?”


It is true that Dialogic Reading has innumerous benefits but our main goal as parents is to help little ones associate reading with happiness and fun, so they grow up to be lifelong readers! Therefore, don’t overdo your prompts, just initiate them once every 2 pages but don’t ever forget to have lots and lots of FUN—change your tone of voice, get down on the floor and act out….. just be silly! Coz’……. with every giggle, every laugh, your child will fall more and more and more in love with the very concept of reading!


So……………. instead of reading to our children, let us read TOGETHER and make learning from books FUN and INFINITE!


“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” — Jacqueline Kennedy

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