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What Works Clearinghouse

Report Summary


Dialogic reading was found to have potentially positive effects on communication and language competencies for children with disabilities.

Program Description

Dialogic reading is an interactive shared picture-book reading practice designed to enhance young children’s language and literacy skills. During the shared reading practice, the adult and the child switch roles so that the child learns to become the storyteller with the assistance of the adult, who functions as an active listener and questioner.


Two studies of dialogic reading that fall within the scope of the Early Childhood Education Interventions for Children with Disabilities review protocol meet What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) evidence standards. The two studies included 52 students with language delays, from ages three to six, participating in early childhood programs in the Pacific Northwest. Both studies examined intervention effects on children’s communication and language competencies.

Based on these two studies, the WWC considers the extent of evidence for dialogic reading to be small for communication and language competencies for children with disabilities. No studies that meet WWC evidence standards with or without reservations examined the effectiveness of dialogic reading for children with disabilities in the domains of cognitive development, literacy, math competencies, social-emotional development and behavior, functional abilities, or physical well-being.
This intervention report was prepared for the WWC by Mathematica Policy Research under contract ED-07-CO-0062.