Join the newsletter!

Want 10% off any product in my shop?

Sign up to stay up to date on the latest news, freebies, and content.

    We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Using a dialogic reading strategy in speech therapy

    Using a dialogic reading strategy in speech therapy

    7 minute read

    Ever have those sessions where you feel like you're just using random visuals and you're not even sure if you're addressing the child's goals? 🙋‍♀️ I've been there! In this post, I'm going to share a strategy that I have found incredibly helpful: dialogic reading.

    👉 Need play-based visuals inspo? Check out my last blog post, Play-based Therapy Using your Favorite Read Aloud Books!

    What IS dialogic reading?

    You might have heard this buzzword - and that's because it's an AMAZING strategy that integrates prompting with questions and reading.

    Dialogic reading is an interactive technique based on the extensive research of Grover J. Whitehurst, Ph.D. This strategy encourages adults to prompt children with questions and engage them in discussions while reading to them.

    love dialogic reading because it:

     is interactive & student-centered

    incorporates narrative and expository text and fosters questions and discussion throughout, and

    can be used with students at all levels.

    (Zevenbergen & Whitehurst, 2003)

    Dialogic Reading - Definition

    We are SO good at prompting students with questions - but how do you know what questions to ask or whether you're asking a question that engages and promotes learning? 

    How does dialogic reading work?

    Seasonal Book Companion Visuals for Speech Therapy: Hands-On Play Based Learning

    Traditionally, dialogic reading is implemented by reading the same book multiple times and utilizing three levels of questions. (Flynn, 2011)

    I LOVE having these 3 levels in the back of my mind during a session - they really help to provide structure to my sessions.

    Dialogic Reading - 3 Questions

    I'll break down the 3 levels for you below with examples from my Seasonal Book Companion Visuals, using one of my favorite winter read alouds, Sneezy the Snowman👇

    Level 1 - basic wh-questions

    👉 These questions are focused on what can immediately be seen (or read) in the text. Level 1 also includes introducing new vocabulary. In this level, repeat and expand on the students's answers.

    Example: Provide the picture icons and ask the student, "What is Sneezy wearing now?"

    Level 2 - open-ended questions

    👉 Level 2 questions are more open-ended to elicit the child's feedback. The adult encourages the child to share what they are thinking about and make meaning from the text. You can use prompts such as "tell me more about that" or "tell me about (character, picture), or "what else do you see?" etc.

    Example: Point to the snowman and the picture icons and prompt the student to share about Sneezy, "Tell me about Sneezy!"

    Level 3 - questions that introduce text features, story components & inferencing

    👉 Level 3 questions are more advanced and introduce concepts like text featuresThese also include questions that distance the student from the text and connect the story to their own life. Encourage students to use vocabulary from the book.

    Examples: While playing with the snowman and picture icons, prompt the student, "Who was the main character of our story?", "How would you feel if the children helped you?"

    Sneezy the Snowman - Story Companion

    The 3 levels of dialogic reading help to provide an overall framework for questions - the CROWD and PEER+PA strategies take this groundwork a step further...

    What are the CROWD and PEER+PA strategies?

    In the moment, it can be SO difficult to remember what kinds of questions you should be asking... I've been there. That's why I love the CROWD and PEER+PA strategies. 🙌

    The CROWD strategy consists of 5 types of questions that adults can use when engaging in dialogic reading.

    The acronym stands for: Completion Prompts, Recall Prompts, Open-ended Prompts, Wh-Prompts, and Distancing Prompts. (Zevenbergen & Whitehurst, 2003)

    The CROWD Strategy

    What does this look like in real time? Let's take a look using my visuals from my Digital Book Companions!

    Completion Prompts: These are fill-in-the-blank questions

    Use the sentence strip visual to prompt the student - "The old lady is eating..."

    Recall Prompts: These are questions that require the child to remember aspects of the book

    Use the picture icons on the iPad to ask the student if they remember what she ate before the spider - "What did the Old Lady eat before the spider?"

    Open-Ended Prompts: These are statements that encourage the child to respond to the book in his/her own words

    Use the picture icons to help support the student to share about a page - "What is going on on this page?!" (pointing to the tablet)

    Wh-Prompts: These are who, what, where, when, and why questions. 

    Use the Old Lady visual and the tablet to ask what they think the old lady will eat next - "What do you think the Old Lady will eat next?"

    Distancing Prompts: These are questions that require the child to relate the content of the book to aspects of life outside the book

    Use the picture icons to have the student identify what THEY would most/least like to eat - "What do you want to eat?" (prepare for a lot of laughs!!)

    Old Lady - Digital Companion

    These questions are often more basic and help to engage students while exploring their understanding of the text and introducing them to new vocabulary.

    The PEER+PA strategy can be used the help the adult encourage deeper responses.

    The acronym stands for: Prompt the child to say something about the book, Evaluate the child's response, Repeat the prompt, + Praise and Apply the child's response. (Zevenberge & Whitehurst, 2003)

    PEER+PA Strategy

    Prompt the child to say something about the book.

    Adult: What happened to the little blue truck?

    Child: He's in the mud.

    Evaluate the child's response.

    Adult thinks to self, "Yes, it was in the mud, but we can add more to that response."

    Expands the child's response.

    Adult: Points to the picture icon and moves the little blue truck - Yes, he got stuck in the mud!

    Repeat the prompt.

    Adult: What happened to the little blue truck?

    Child: Pointing to the picture icon and moving the little blue truck in the mud - He got stuck in the mud!

    Praise and Apply the child's response.

    Adult: That's right! The little blue truck got stuck in the mud. Good job remembering the story! How would you feel if you got stuck in the mud?

    Child: (Answers will vary). I would feel scared.

    Little Blue Truck - Visuals

    I love to use my Seasonal Book Companion Visuals (and my No Print No Prep Digital Book Companions!) to support the CROWD and PEER+PA strategies and incorporate play into my sessions. They are super simple, easy prep book companions for your little learners.

    Each Book Companion comes with a dialogic reading bookmark - you can keep it on your clipboard to reference or model and share with your families!

    Dialogic Reading Visuals

    I hope this blog post has given you a TON of ideas for supporting read alouds in your sessions with play-based visuals and dialogic reading strategies!

    Happy Reading!


    👉 Check out my Amazon page (affiliate) for themed book/toy ideas!


    Flynn, K. (211). Developing Children's Oral Language Skills through Dialogic Reading. Teaching Exceptional Children, 44(2), 8-16.

    Zevenberg, A.A. & Whitehurts, G.J. (2003). Dialogic reading: A shared picture book reading intervention for preschoolers. In A. van Kleeck, S.A. Stahl & E.B. Bauer (Eds.), On reading books to children: Parents and teachers (pp. 177-200). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

    « Back to Blog