Program

Jan 16, 2013

OVERVIEW

Dialogic reading is an interactive method of reading picture
books with children. When reading dialogically, adults encourage children
to become actively involved in the reading process – asking questions and
allowing children opportunities to be storytellers.

Multiple random assignment studies have examined the impact
of training parents and teachers to engage in dialogic reading. In these
studies, children exposed to dialogic reading have been found to perform better
than unexposed children on some measures of expressive vocabulary and verbal
fluency. Impacts have been found for children from a diversity of
backgrounds – lower-class and upper-class, English-speaking and
Spanish-speaking – and with a diversity of pre-existing language
skills. Dialogic reading has been found to have an impact whether it is
practiced in the school or in the home. The strategy can be effectively
taught to adults via direct training sessions or videotape.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Pre-literate children

Dialogic reading is an interactive method of reading picture
books with young children. This method of reading involves a shift in
roles. Whereas adults typically read and children listen, in dialogic
reading, children learn to become storytellers. Children are encouraged
to describe what they see going on in the books they are presented with and
adults assume the role of active listeners – asking questions, adding information,
and prompting children to increase the sophistication of their descriptions.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Whitehurst, G. J., Falco, F. L., Lonigan, C. J., Fischel,
J. E., DeBaryshe, B. D., Valdez-Menchaca, M. C., & Caulfield M.
(1988). Accelerating Language Development Through Picture Book
Reading. Developmental Psychology, 24(4), 552-559.

Evaluated population: 29 children and their families
served as the population of interest for this investigation. At baseline,
the children ranged in age from 21 months to 35 months. All children were
of normal developmental and linguistic status and came from intact,
middle-class households on Long Island.

Approach: Children were randomly assigned to the
treatment group or to the control group. All children were pre-tested on
three measures of expressive and receptive vocabulary. Treatment and
control children did not differ significantly on any pre-test measures.

Parents of both treatment and control children were alerted
to the potential importance of picture book reading in children’s language
development. All parents were instructed to audiotape their reading
sessions with their children 3-4 times each week for four weeks.

Parents of children in the control group received no special
instructions on how to read to their children; they were simply asked to read
in their customary fashion. Parents (primarily mothers) of children in
the treatment group participated in two 30-minute training sessions in dialogic
reading methods. Training consisted of a verbal explanation of the
reading strategy, an example of the strategy in action, and a chance to
participate in role-plays of the strategy. The first training session
took place at the beginning of the four-week intervention period and the second
took place mid-way through.

After four weeks, children were administered three tests of
expressive and receptive vocabulary. Children were tested again on these
measures nine months later. Tapes of parents reading to their children
were also analyzed.

Results: After the four-week intervention period,
children assigned to the treatment group performed significantly better than
children assigned to the control group on two measures of expressive vocabulary
(the expressive subscale of the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities and
on the Expressive One Word Picture Vocabulary Test). Scores of children
in the treatment group were 6 to 8.5 months ahead of those of children in the
control group. Differences on a measure of receptive vocabulary (the
Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test – Revised) favored the treatment group,
but were only marginally significant. Nine months later, the size of the
between-group difference in expressive vocabulary skills persisted, but, due to
the departure of 7 children from the study sample, the difference was only
marginally significant. Between-group differences in receptive vocabulary
skills were non-existent at this time point.

Analysis of audiotapes revealed that children in the
treatment group engaged in more substantial dialogue with their parents during
reading sessions than did children in the control group. Treatment group
children were significantly more likely to speak in multi-word phrases and,
during the second half of the intervention, had significantly a significantly
greater mean length of utterance.

Throughout the intervention, parents of children in the
treatment group were significantly more likely to repeat their children’s
utterances and were significantly less likely to read without asking for
responses from their children, to ask their children yes/no questions, and to
request non-verbal action from their children. During the second half of
the intervention, treatment parents were significantly more likely to praise
their children during reading sessions, to expand upon their children’s
comments, and to ask open-ended questions of their children.

Valdez-Menchaca, M. C. & Whitehurst, G. J.
(1992). Accelerating Language Development Through Picture Book Reading: A
Systematic Extension to Mexican Day Care. Developmental Psychology, 28(6),
1106-1114.

Evaluated population: 20 children from Tepic, Mexico
served as the population of interest for this study. At baseline,
children ranged in age from 27 months to 35 months. All were Spanish
speakers and attended public day care. The children all had literate,
working class parents. Parents reported reading to their children only
rarely and only 10% had children’s books in the home. All the
children were developing normally, but they were evaluated at baseline as
having low linguistic abilities.

Approach: All children were pre-tested on three
measures of expressive and receptive vocabulary. Children were then
matched on the basis of test scores and demographics and were randomly assigned
to the treatment group or to the control group.

Children assigned to the treatment group took part in
one-on-one dialogic reading sessions with a graduate student for 10-12 minutes
a day, over the course of 30 days. Children assigned to the control group
took part in one-on-one art activities with a graduate student for 10-12
minutes a day, over the course of 30 days. No specific language
stimulation was provided during these sessions; the graduate student only
engaged in regular conversation with the children.

As was convention at the day care center the children
attended, no language activities took place beyond those provided for treatment
students as part of the intervention. Stories were never read to the
children and no books were available in the day care center.

After the 30-day intervention, children were administered
three tests of expressive and receptive vocabulary. Each child was also
asked to read a book with an unfamiliar adult. Children’s verbal productions
during these reading sessions were analyzed.

Results: Following the 30-day intervention, students
in the treatment group scored significantly higher than students in the control
group on measures of expressive and receptive vocabulary (the expressive
subscale of the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities, the Expressive One
Word Picture Vocabulary Test, and the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test –
Revised). Scores of children in the treatment group were 3.3 to 8.2
months ahead of those of children in the control group.

In analyzing children’s verbal production during
post-test reading sessions, researchers found that, compared with children from
the control group, children from the treatment group spoke more often and
produced longer, more complex sentences when they spoke. These children
used a greater variety of words and were more likely to appropriate respond to
prompts from the adult with whom they read.

Arnold, D. H., Lonigan, C. J., Whitehurst, G. J., &
Epstein, J. N. (1994). Accelerating Language Development Through
Picture Book Reading: Replication and Extension to a Videotape Training
Format. Journal of Educational Psychology, 86(2), 235-243.

Evaluated population: 64 children and their mothers
served as the population of interest for this investigation. At baseline,
children ranged in age from 24 months to 34 months and had average or
above-average expressive and receptive language skills. Children came
from middle- and upper-class families and their parents reported reading to
them often.

Approach: Children were randomly assigned to the
control group or to one of two treatment groups: a direct-training group and a
video-training group. All children were pre-tested on two measures of
expressive and receptive vocabulary. The three groups did not differ
significantly from one another on any measures.

For the first week of the intervention, all parents were
asked to read with their children at least four times a week. They were
provided with audiotapes and were asked to record their reading sessions.
No specific instructions were provided on how parents should read with their
children.

For the remaining four weeks of the intervention, mothers in
the treatment group were asked to engage in dialogic reading with their
children. Mothers in the direct-training group took part in two training
sessions, identical to those described above in the Whitehurst, et al. 1988
study. Mothers in the video-training group did not train with an actual
person. Instead, they were provided with a videotape that instructed them
on the principles of dialogic reading. This tape consisted of two
segments – one 20 minutes long, the other 15 minutes long – that had
comparable content to that of the direct-training sessions. Because the
video could not provide mothers with role-plays to participate in, it provided
them with opportunities to watch on-screen mothers make mistakes in
implementing the dialogic reading strategy and then asked viewers what the
on-screen mother should have done differently. Mothers in the control
group continued to read with their children in their traditional manners.

After the five-week intervention, children were administered
two tests of expressive vocabulary, one test of receptive vocabulary, and one
test of grammatical understanding.

Results: Following the five-week intervention,
children whose parents were trained in dialogic reading via videotape
outperformed control children on measures of expressive vocabulary by 3.9 to
5.1 months. This constituted a significant difference. Children of
videotape-trained parents outperformed control children on a measure of
receptive vocabulary by 3.3 months, but this difference was only marginally
significant.

Children whose parents were trained in dialogic reading via
direct training outperformed control children on one measure of expressive
vocabulary (the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities). These
children did not outperform control children on the other measure of expressive
vocabulary or the measure of receptive vocabulary.

Children whose parents were trained via videotape performed
significantly better than children whose parents were trained via direct
training on two of the three post-test measures (one expressive and one
receptive). On the remaining expressive measure, the two treatment groups
did not perform significantly differently. This serves as confirmation of
the fact that cost-effective video-based training in dialogic reading strategies
is no less successful direct training.

Whitehurst, G.J., Arnold, D.S., Epstein, J.N., Angell,
A.L., Smith, M., & Fischel, J.E. (1994). A Picture Book Reading
Intervention in Day Care and Home for Children From Low Income Families. Developmental
Psychology, 30
(5), 679-689.

Evaluated population: 73 three-year-olds from
low-income families constituted the study sample for this investigation.
These children were drawn from five day-care centers in Suffolk County, New
York. The children were 22% white, 55% black, and 23% Hispanic. 90%
of the children’s mothers were native speakers of English. At
baseline, the children’s vocabulary and expressive skills in standard
English were significantly below average, as measured by standardized tests.

Approach: At baseline, all children were subjected to
four standardized tests of language ability. They were then randomly
assigned, by classroom, to one of three conditions: a school reading treatment,
a school plus home reading treatment, or an activity and attention control.

Children assigned to the school reading treatment engaged in
dialogic book reading with a teacher or aide and no more than five other
children. These shared reading sessions occurred daily, for about ten
minutes a day. Books were selected on the basis of having illustrations
that could serve to introduce new vocabulary to children and could support a
story narrative through illustrations alone.

Children assigned to the school plus home reading treatment
engaged in small-group dialogic reading at school under the same conditions as
the school reading treatment students. Additionally, a parent or primary
caretaker of each child was trained in dialogic reading and was given three
books. Parents/caretakers were encouraged to engage in dialogic reading
with their children daily.

Children assigned to the control condition engaged in play
activities with a teacher or aide and no more than five other children.
These sessions occurred daily, for about ten minutes a day. During these
sessions, children were provided with access to new toys and were encouraged to
engage in cooperative, creative play.

Children were reassessed on measures of language ability
immediately after the six week intervention, and again, six months later.

Training in dialogic reading took place during two sessions,
spaced out over three weeks. The first training was approximately 30
minutes long; the second was 20 minutes long. Trainees viewed a videotape
that included lessons on the rules of dialogic reading and a series of
vignettes depicting inappropriate adult-child book reading. Trainees were
asked to criticize the readers in the vignettes and describe how they could
have done better. Trainees also engaged in role-plays with a trainer and
received feedback on their use of the dialogic reading rules. Teacher
training was identical to parent training, except in so far as the teacher
training discussed reading to groups of children and the parent training
discussed reading to individual children.

Results: Immediately after the intervention, on a
measure of expressive vocabulary (the Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary
Test – Revised), treatment group children preformed significantly better
than control group children. Additionally, children in the school plus
home reading condition performed significantly better than children in the
school reading condition. On a separate measure of expressive vocabulary
(Our Word), treatment group children preformed significantly better than
control group children, but no significant difference emerged between the two
treatment conditions. On a measure of receptive vocabulary (the Peabody
Picture Vocabulary Test – Revised), treatment group children preformed
marginally better than control group children. And on a measure of verbal
fluency in describing common objects (the expressive subscale of the Illinois
Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities), no significant differences emerged between
treatment children and control children.

At the six-month follow-up, the treatment group continued to
perform significantly better than the control group on the One-Word test of
expressive vocabulary. No other significant differences existed at this
point.

Lonigan, C.J. & Whitehurst, G.J. (1998).
Relative Efficacy of Parent and Teacher Involvement in a Shared-Reading
Intervention for Preschool Children from Low-Income Backgrounds. Early
Childhood Research Quarterly, 13
(2), 263-290.

Evaluated population: 114 three- and four-year-old
children from low-income families were selected to participate in this
study. These children were drawn from four child care centers in
metropolitan Nashville, Tennessee. 23 children left the center they were
attending prior to completing the post-test for this investigation, so the final
study sample included only 91 children. The 23 children who left the
study did not differ significantly from the 91 children who remained in the
study on any pre-test variables.

The children were 91% black. All of the children were
from English-speaking homes. At baseline, the children’s vocabulary
and expressive skills in standard English were significantly below average, as
measured by standardized tests.

Approach: At baseline, all children were subjected to
three standardized tests of oral language ability. They were then
randomly assigned, by classroom, to one of four conditions: a school reading
treatment, a home reading treatment, a school plus home reading treatment, or a
no treatment control.

Parents of children assigned to a home reading treatment
were asked to attend two dialogic reading training sessions. All of these
parents attended the first session and only two missed the second
session. Teachers and aides also attended two dialogic reading training
sessions. Training in this study was identical to the training described
for the previous study.

Each child assigned to a treatment that involved school
reading engaged in dialogic book reading with a teacher or aide and no more
than five other children. These shared reading sessions occurred daily,
for about ten minutes a day. Books were selected on the basis of having
illustrations that could serve to introduce new vocabulary to children and
could support a story narrative through illustrations alone.

Parent of children assigned to a treatment that involved
home reading were encouraged to engage in dialogic reading with their children
daily. These parents were given three books to read with their children.

No specific instructions or activities were provided for
control group children.

Children were reassessed on standardized measures of oral
language ability immediately after the six week intervention. A subset of
the children (n=66) also had their verbal productions assessed during a
semi-structured book-reading wherein they read a familiar book and an
unfamiliar book with a familiar adult.

Results: Immediately after the intervention, on a
measure of expressive vocabulary (the expressive subscale of the Illinois Test
of Psycholinguistic Abilities), treatment group children performed
significantly better than control group children. Scores for children
assigned to the home reading treatment were significantly higher than scores
for school reading treatment children and school plus home reading treatment
children.

On a different measure of expressive vocabulary (the
One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test), treatment children from child care centers
that scored high on a measure of compliance with study protocol did
significantly better than control group children at these centers.
Treatment children from centers that scored low on this measure of compliance
did not perform better than control children. In fact, children in the
school reading treatment group at these low-compliance centers scored
significantly worse than the home reading treatment group, the school plus home
reading treatment group, and the control group.

On a measure of receptive vocabulary (the Peabody Picture
Vocabulary Test – Revised), treatment children’s scores were not
significantly different from control children’s scores.

During the semi-structured book-reading assessment with an
unfamiliar book, treatment children from high-compliance centers produced
longer utterances, more words, more adjectives, and a greater diversity of
words than did control children from these centers. The verbal production
of treatment children from low-compliance centers did not differ significantly
from the verbal production of control children from these centers.

During the semi-structured book-reading assessment with a
familiar book, treatment children from high-compliance centers used more words,
a higher diversity of words, and more verbs than did control children from
these centers. The verbal production of treatment children from the
low-compliance centers did not differ significantly from the verbal production
of control children from these centers.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

Several dialogic reading training programs exist. The
following website is one of many that offer access to training materials:

<a
href=”http://www.pearsonearlylearning.com/products/curriculum/rttt/rttt_learnMore.html”>http://www.pearsonearlylearning.com/products/curriculum/rttt/rttt_learnMore.html

References:

Whitehurst, G. J., Falco, F. L., Lonigan, C. J., Fischel, J.
E., DeBaryshe, B. D., Valdez-Menchaca, M. C., & Caulfield M.
(1988). Accelerating Language Development Through Picture Book
Reading. Developmental Psychology, 24(4), 552-559.

Valdez-Menchaca, M. C. & Whitehurst, G. J.
(1992). Accelerating Language Development Through Picture Book Reading: A
Systematic Extension to Mexican Day Care. Developmental Psychology, 28(6),
1106-1114.

Arnold, D. H., Lonigan, C. J., Whitehurst, G. J., & Epstein,
J. N. (1994). Accelerating Language Development Through Picture
Book Reading: Replication and Extension to a Videotape Training Format. Journal
of Educational Psychology, 86
(2), 235-243.

Whitehurst, G.J., Arnold, D.S., Epstein, J.N., Angell, A.L.,
Smith, M., & Fischel, J.E. (1994). A Picture Book Reading
Intervention in Day Care and Home for Children From Low Income Families. Developmental
Psychology, 30
(5), 679-689.

Lonigan, C.J. & Whitehurst, G.J. (1998).
Relative Efficacy of Parent and Teacher Involvement in a Shared-Reading
Intervention for Preschool Children from Low-Income Backgrounds. Early
Childhood Research Quarterly, 13
(2), 263-290.

Whitehurst, G.J., Arnold, D.S., Epstein, J.N., Angell, A.L.,
Smith, M., & Fischel, J.E. (1994). A Picture Book Reading
Intervention in Day Care and Home for Children From Low Income Families. Developmental
Psychology, 30
(5), 679-689.

KEYWORDS: manual, parent or family component, preschool,
Reading, Hispanic/Latino, co-ed, Black/African American

Program information last updated on 12/20/07.

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