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National Read a Book Day: Tips for Parents on Dialogic Reading


Read! Read! Read!  

We hear and see the message everywhere and know the importance of reading to our children.  Reading is a wonderful way to spend meaningful time with our kiddos. There is nothing better than snuggling up to a book before bedtime.  These moments create memories that our children will have forever.   We have  learned through research studies that these reading moments can have an even greater impact on your child’s language development by not only how frequently you read to them but by the WAY you read to them! (Whitehurst, 1999)

Dialogic Reading is reading in which the adult helps the child become the teller of the story.  The toddler or preschooler becomes an active participant in the book and in effect creates a conversation about the story.  When children are read to dialogically they can improve their language abilities and increase their vocabulary.  Children are better able to identify sounds and letters and even demonstrate emergent writing skills.  Dialogic Reading can help build a stronger relationship with your child while improving these important skills!  

Ways to read dialogically with your child:

  • Read picture books that illustrate a sequence of activity that your child can easily follow.

  • Pick books with colorful illustrations and minimal text.

  • Actively involve your child in the book.

  • Teach your child to become the story teller.

  • Make comments about the pictures and wait for your child to respond.

  • Ask questions about the pictures and wait for your child to build upon the dialogue.

  • Respond to what she or he says about pictures by adding just a little more to her or his comments.

  • Restate what your child has commented on to help him or her construct more meaning out of the story.  

Dialogic Reading can increase important language skills that will benefit your child for years to come.  It can provide a window into what your toddler or preschooler is thinking and feeling.   It can create lasting memories and instill a joy for reading that will benefit him or her through out school and life.  So next time you pick up a book with your child remember a picture is worth a 1,000 words.

September 6th is National Read A Book Day so let’s celebrate by doing some dialogic reading with your children. Here’s a song from our friends at Growing Sound to help with the celebration! 

Sarah Zawaly has been working with young children, parents and teachers for a number of years in multiple capacities; teacher, therapist, preschool consultant, and coach. She has her MSW and is currently working at Children, Inc. in the Research Development Department.  

Children, Inc. is a highly rated nonprofit provider in childcare, family support, and school age services in Greater Cincinnati. Our work in advocacy, training, and research builds a strong foundation for success for 2,000 children and families every day. For more information, please visit our website:

Written by Sarah Zawaly for Children, Inc.

Photo via Wiki Commons