WWC review of this study

Learning new words from storybooks: An efficacy study with at-risk kindergartners.

Justice, L. M., Meier, J., & Walpole, S. (2005). Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 36(1), 17–32. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ741266

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: February 2023

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Vocabulary development outcomes—Substantively important positive effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Word learning of target elaborated words

Storybook reading—Justice et al. (2005) vs. Business as usual

0 Weeks

Full sample;
57 students





Word learning of target non-elaborated words

Storybook reading—Justice et al. (2005) vs. Business as usual

0 Weeks

Full sample;
57 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Urban


This study was conducted in two elementary schools located in a small urban community within a Mid-Atlantic U.S. state. Storybook reading sessions were conducted with groups of three to six children in a private setting within the school.

Intervention Group

This intervention complements the normal reading curriculum used in the kindergarten class. The children in the storybook reading condition were read 10 books during 20 storybook reading sessions over the course of 10 weeks. One to three storybook reading sessions were held each week, and during each session, two books were read (thus, all books were read 4 times). Sessions lasted about 20 minutes. Sessions were held with groups of three to six children. There was no home component to this intervention. The intervention was implemented by three "readers" who were graduate students in education. For the intervention, the researchers chose 10 storybooks that contained colorful illustrations, contained approximately six vocabulary words that would be novel to kindergarteners, were neither too long or too short, did not use too much text to tell the story, were of narrative genre, and were developmentally appropriate. Within these 10 books, 60 "tier 2" vocabulary words were selected. The researchers categorized the 60 words into nouns, adjectives and verbs. Within each category 1/2 of the words were randomly assigned to be elaborated upon by the three interventionists/readers (graduate students in education) while the other 1/2 of the words would receive no elaboration/explanation. Each book contained three non-elaboration vocabulary words and three non-elaboration vocabulary words. Elaboration words were highlighted in the books that interventionists/readers read. When the readers came to these words, they provided to the students a specific explanation/elaboration that was printed on a note card outside the view of the children. First they provided a definition of the word, then they used the word in a supportive context (created a novel sentence using the word).

Comparison Group

The control group followed business as usual. These children participated in no additional storybook reading sessions, other than those that are part of the normal kindergarten curriculum.

Support for implementation

Little is mentioned regarding the training of the interventionists/storybook readers


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