Join Our Mailing List

Reading trade books aloud encourages vocabulary development.

Big Idea

Children who are DHH can learn vocabulary through parents’ and teachers’ repeated readings of common trade books, such as Is Your Mama a Llama? The adult and children engage in multiple readings of the same book, delving deeper into the content and vocabulary across readings. Children may comment on the story or ask questions about it and the teacher can provide vocabulary and expand the children’s contributions with details.


Fact #1 brief explanation

By modeling reading aloud, teachers can expand their students’ vocabulary contributions by asking different types of questions and providing feedback for children’s responses. Questions and prompts might include the following types:

  1. Wh-questions (who, what, where, when, why, how): What does a llama look like?
  2. Comprehension questions: Who is the llama looking for? Where does he look?
  3. Recall questions: Who does the llama see first?
  4. Distancing questions: What does your mama look like?
  5. Open-ended questions: What is happening here?
  6. Expansion: Teacher: Who is this? Child: Seal. Teacher: Yes, the seal has flippers.
  7. Recast: Child: Seal eat fish. Teacher: Yes, the seal is eating a fish.
  8. Parallel talk: The llama is looking for his mama. He seems sad.

Supporting Fact

Children who were DHH, ages 5 to 9 years, increased their vocabulary when their parents created dialogue about shared stories using prompts and picture cards (Fung et al.).

Supporting Fact

When mothers used recast, open-ended questions, parallel talk, and expansion during shared reading, their children with cochlear implants scored higher on language assessments than mothers who simply used labeling, imitation, directives, and yes /no questions (DesJardin, Ambrose, & Eisenberg, 2008). Additionally, mothers’ increased used of open-ended questions and decreased use of labeling and directives positively related to children’s expressive language skills (DesJardin & Eisenberg, 2008).


DesJardin, J.L., Ambrose, S., & Eisenberg, L.S. (2009). Literacy skills in children with cochlear implants: The importance of early oral language and joint storybook readingJournal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 14(1), 22-43.  The goal of this study was to longitudinally examine relationships between early factors (child and mother) that may influence children's phonological awareness and reading skills 3 years later in a group of young children with cochlear implants (N = 16). Mothers and children were videotaped during two storybook interactions, and children's oral language skills were assessed using the “Reynell Developmental Language Scales, third edition.” Three years later, phonological awareness, reading skills, and language skills were assessed using the “Phonological Awareness Test,” the “Woodcock–Johnson-III Diagnostic Reading Battery,” and the “Oral Written Language Scales.” Variables included in the data analyses were child (age, age at implant, and language skills) and mother factors (facilitative language techniques) and children's phonological awareness and reading standard scores. Results indicate that children's early expressive oral language skills and mothers’ use of a higher level facilitative language technique (open-ended question) during storybook reading, although related, each contributed uniquely to children's literacy skills. Individual analyses revealed that the children with expressive standard scores below 70 at Time 1 also performed below average (<85) on phonological awareness and total reading tasks 3 years later. Guidelines for professionals are provided to support literacy skills in young children with cochlear implants. 

DesJardin, J.L. & Eisenberg, L.S. (2007).  Maternal contributions: Supporting language development in children with cochlear implants. Ear and Hearing, 28, 456-469.  The principal goal of this study was to investigate the relationships between maternal contributions (e.g., involvement, self-efficacy, linguistic input) and receptive and expressive (oral and sign) language skills in young children with cochlear implants. Relationships between maternal contributions and children's language skills were investigated by using correlation and regression analyses. Thirty-two mothers (mean age = 36.0 yr) and their children (mean age = 4.8 yr) were videotaped during free play and storybook interactions. Mothers' and children's quantitative (MLU, number of word-types) and mothers' qualitative (facilitative language techniques) linguistic input were analyzed. Mothers completed a measurement tool specifically designed to quantify their sense of involvement and self-efficacy (Scale of Parental Involvement and Self-Efficacy). The Reynell Developmental Language Scales and data from videotaped transcription analyses were used to evaluate children's oral and sign language skills. Maternal involvement and self-efficacy relating to children's speech-language development were positively related to mothers' quantitative and qualitative linguistic input. After controlling for child's age, mothers' MLU and two facilitative language techniques (recast and open-ended question) were positively related to children's language skills. The performance of young implant users may vary in part because of their mothers' sense of involvement and self-efficacy, as well as the ways in which mothers interact with their children. Given this information, it would be fruitful for professionals working with these families to incorporate goals that enhance caregivers' involvement, self-efficacy, and linguistic input to better support language development in young children after cochlear implantation.

Fung, P. C., Chow, B. W., & McBride-Chang, C. (2005). The impact of a dialogic reading program on deaf and hard-of-hearing kindergarten and early primary school-aged students in Hong Kong. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 10(1), 82-95.  The present study investigated the effects of a special interactive dialogic reading method developed by Whitehurst et al. (1988) on deaf and hard-of-hearing children in Hong Kong. Twenty-eight deaf and hard-of-hearing children in kindergarten, first, or second grade were pretested on a receptive vocabulary test and assigned to one of three conditions, dialogic reading, typical reading, and control, with age and degree of hearing loss matched. After an 8-week intervention, the children were re-tested. The dialogic reading group had a significantly greater improvement in vocabulary scores than did the other two groups. Parent-child interactions of high quality and the use of pictorial materials are likely the key successful factors in the program. The educational value of this intervention is discussed.