Nov 03, 2008


A community-based
dialogic reading intervention that engages the child was implemented among an educationally-diverse
sample of parents and young children. Parents were randomly assigned to one of
three instructional methods in dialogic reading: 1) in-person instruction with
videotaped explanation presented to small groups of parents; 2) self-instruction
by videotape with telephone coaching; and, 3) self-instruction by videotape
alone. In an experimental evaluation of the intervention, researchers
found that instruction resulted in more than a four-fold increase in parents’
dialogic reading behaviors and had significant positive effects on children’s language use during shared reading. When
analyses were stratified by parents’ education and instructional method
(in-person vs. self-instruction), there was a significant difference favoring
in-person instruction as the more efficacious method of instruction, especially
for parents with high school education.


population: Parents of pre-school children aged 2-3

Dialogic reading is an evidence-based intervention to
promote the language skills of young children. The content of the intervention
was based on the program “Dialogic Reading for Two- and Three-Year Olds” as
described by Whitehurst and his colleagues (Whitehurst et al., 1988). The
instructional video used in the present study was “Hear and Say Reading with
Toddlers” (Huebner, 2001), a 16.5-min videotape
developed to explain dialogic reading to parents and early childhood educators
and encourage daily reading using the dialogic style. The program has two
sessions. In Session I, parents are instructed to reduce reading
behaviors that minimize or exclude the child’s verbal
participation, and increase verbal behaviors that invite and maintain the child’s active participation in telling the story. In
Session II, parents are shown how to increase two additional reading behaviors,
verbal expansions and open-ended questions that help children build more
sophisticated sentence-level skills.

The groups were conducted by a community resident who
reviewed and modeled the techniques demonstrated on the video.

Parents assigned to the self-instruction with telephone
follow-up group received the instructional video and a children’s
book by mail along with a letter stating a staff member would telephone them in
approximately one week to “see how the new reading style is working out and
answer any questions.”

Parents assigned to self-instruction only (i.e., without
telephone follow-up) received the instructional video and a children’s
book by mail along with a letter instructing them to view Part I of the tape,
to try those reading techniques for four weeks, and then view Part II for tips
that build on Part I.


Huebner, C. E., & Meltzoff, A. N. (2005).Intervention to
change parent-child reading style: A comparison of instructional methods. Journal
of Applied Developmental Psychology, 26
, 296-313.

Evaluated population: A total of 112 parents
participated in the study; 6 were fathers and 106 were mothers. The average
years of education of mothers and fathers included some college,
however, 21% of the study mothers and 35% of the fathers had no additional
schooling beyond high school. The majority of the parents were white, and most
lived with a spouse partner

Approach: Parents were randomly assigned to one of
three instructional conditions: in-person instruction with instructional video;
self-instruction by video with telephone follow-up, and self-instruction by
video alone. Parents randomly assigned to the in-person group with an
instructor in small groups of two to six parents.

Data were collected at pretest and posttest. Measured
outcomes included: 1) parent dialogic reading ratio; b) child verbosity; and c)
child’s longest five utterances.

Results: Comparison of parent-child reading before
and after instruction in dialogic reading showed instruction was associated
with large and significant differences in reading style for all three
groups. That is, analyses show no significant differences in uptake of
dialogic reading by instructional method. Parents assigned to self-instruction
(with or without telephone follow-up) reported they watched the video, and at
post-test, their dialogic reading score was significantly higher than at baseline.
Additionally, instruction by mailing the video worked, even without telephone



Huebner, C. E., & Meltzoff,
A. N. (2005). Intervention to change parent-child reading style: A
comparison of instructional methods. Journal of Applied Developmental
Psychology, 26
, 296-313.

KEYWORDS:Community-Based, Education, Literacy, Early Childhood (0-5), Education,
Toddlers, Skills Training, White or Caucasian, Dialogic Reading, Preschool, Parent or Family
Component, Cognitive Development.

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