Dialogic Reading: What Is It?

Let’s talk about it! Dialogic Reading can greatly enhance the language and literacy development of learners. This interactive reading style actively engages children in the storytelling process and encourages dialogue and critical thinking.

Dialogic Reading, coined by Dr. Grover J. Whitehurst, is based on the idea that reading must involve a dynamic exchange between the reader and learner. Instead of simply reading a story from start to finish, Dialogic Reading employs conversation and questioning, thus relying on a learner’s active participation. This motivates the learner to engage in dialogue in order to express their thoughts and make connections to the texts they read. This reader-text relationship can facilitate stronger retention of information and comprehension of the story.

Prompting Dialogue

Asking open-ended questions that encourage readers to think beyond the literal aspects and happenings of the story. Utilizing question stems that challenge students to think critically and empathetically make for a winning academic and personal development combination. For example, “What would happen if…?” “What would you do if…?” “What advice would you give to this character?”

Continuing Dialogue

Ask follow-up or probing questions to keep the dialogue going rather than halting after one exchange. Use phrases like:

  • “Why?
  • “What makes you say that?”
  • “How did you know?”
  • “Tell me more…”

Flexibility and Active Listening

During dialogic reading, being an attentive listener, providing positive reinforcement and validating the learner’s contributions is paramount. Even if the learner’s ideas deviate from the intended story, their very engagement can serve to enhance their social and emotional development. When a child engages in these direct conversations, it can allow them to translate those same skills to other scenarios. Additionally, engaging in meaningful conversations allows learners to empathize with characters, explore different emotions, and develop a greater understanding of the world around them.

Here’s a helpful Dialogic Reading Guide:

Click here to view and download a helpful Dialogic Reading Guide.