Dialogic Reading

Dialogic Reading is a powerful early language facilitation method where adults and children look at picture-books together, and talk about the book. Instead of reading the text, the adult uses simple language facilitation techniques to promote a dialogue with the child. Extensive research shows that dialogic reading is very effective in accelerating vocabulary development and encouraging children to use longer phrases.

Language is the Key teaches three simple strategies to promote interaction between an adult and a young child: Comment and wait, Ask questions and wait, and Respond by adding more. We also encourage adults to “Follow the Child’s Lead” and talk about what the child wants to talk about. The acronym, CAR, is a mnemonic device that helps adults remember the strategies.

Dialogic Reading was pioneered by Dr. Russ Whitehurst. Language is the Key uses a dialogic reading approach. It is also infused with research findings in the areas early language, literacy, and play development; family involvement; language facilitation; bilingual language development; cultural relevance, and adult learning. You can learn more about Dr. Whitehurst’s original research, and our own research, in the Research section.