Shared Reading

Through teacher-child readings of books, young children learn many of the key aspects of literacy such as book and print awareness, functions of print, and listening comprehension.


With storybooks or big books, children should have shared reading experiences each and every day. The teacher must not only read out loud, but develop routine practices that will actively engage the children.

Reading With Preschoolers

In addition to reading books to preschoolers while they listen, it is important to discuss the books with them. One program successfully taught child care providers and their parents a systematic way to discuss books.

This method employs (1) a way of interacting with preschoolers while discussing books—called the PEER sequence—and (2) five types of prompts to use during the interactions—called CROWD. The PEER sequence and the CROWD principles always operate within the larger principles of following the child’s interests, expecting slightly more of the child each time through the book, and keeping interactions light and fun.

In the PEER sequence:


Parent (or other adult) initiates an exchange about the book, and


Evaluates the child’s response,


Expands the child’s response, and


Repeats the initial question to check that the child understands the new learning.

For example, reading A Mother for Choco:

Adult: “What is Mrs. Bear doing?” (Wh-prompt. See below)

Child: “Standing on her toes.”

Adult: “Yes, she’s standing on her toes and picking apples.” (Evaluates and expands)

Adult (Next time through the book): “What is Mrs. Bear doing? Do you remember? (Repeats question)

Child: “She’s standing on her toes and picking apples.”

Adult: “That’s right, and she’s putting them in her basket.” (Evaluates and expands)

The CROWD questions* include:


Completion questions about the structure of language used in the book, for example, “When Choco talked with the Penguin, he cried ‘you have ______ (wings) just like me!’” The child fills in the blank.


Recall questions relate to the story content of the book, for example,“Do you remember how this book ended for Choco?”


Open-ended questions to increase the amount of talk about a book and to focus on the details of the book, for example,“What is happening on this page?”


“Wh” questions to teach new vocabulary, for example,“No matter where Choco searched, he couldn’t find a mother who looked just like him. What is a ‘search’?”


Distancing questions that help the child bridge the material in the book to their real-life experiences, for example,“Does everyone in your family look the same? How do you think Choco felt about everyone in his family looking different?”


The crowd questions are for older preschoolers. Use only ”wh” questions and then open-ended questions for two-year-olds and early three-year-olds.

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