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Story Talk - Interactive Book Reading Program

Blueprints Program Rating: Promising

A reading strategy intended to promote the development of language and literacy skills in young children from low-income families.

Program Outcomes

  • Cognitive Development
  • Preschool Communication/Language Development

Program Type

  • Early Childhood Education
  • Teacher Training

Program Setting

  • School

Continuum of Intervention

  • Universal Prevention (Entire Population)


  • Early Childhood (3-4) - Preschool


  • Male and Female


  • All Race/Ethnicity


  • Blueprints: Promising

Program Information Contact

Barbara A. Wasik, Ph.D.
Professor, PNC Chair in Early Childhood Education
Temple University
College of Education
1301 Cecil B. Moore Ave.
Ritter Hall 437
Philadelphia, PA 19122
Phone: (215) 204-4982

Program Developer/Owner

  • Barbara A. Wasik, Ph.D.
  • Temple University

Brief Description of the Program

The Story Talk - Interactive Book Reading program is a reading strategy intended to promote the development of language and literacy skills in young children (preschool aged). Teachers are trained to use specific book reading and oral language strategies and methods to increase opportunities for language and vocabulary development in other areas of teaching. Training lasts 15 weeks while the skills and reading strategies are incorporated into the daily classroom interactions throughout the school year.

See: Full Description


At posttest, intervention classes scored significantly higher on tests of vocabulary skills than did their peers in the control classes.

In the Head Start study (Wasik, Bond and Hindman, 2006):

  • Children in the intervention classrooms scored significantly higher on both measures of vocabulary at posttest than did their peers in the control classrooms.
  • A medium to large effect was found on the children's receptive vocabulary (PPVT-II effect size: d = 0.73).
  • A small to medium effect was found on children's expressive vocabulary (EOWPVT-III effect size: d = 0.44).

In the Title-I study (Wasik and Bond, 2001):

  • Children in the intervention classrooms scored significantly higher on the measure of receptive vocabulary and on tests of their knowledge of key target words.

Classroom observations found that intervention teachers in both studies were significantly and substantially more likely than control teachers to use the target words and to use strategies that promoted language development both during book reading and other classroom activities.

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

In study 1 (Wasik, Bond and Hindman, 2006), the sample children were 99% African American. In study 2 (Wasik and Bond, 2001), the sample children were 94% African American (there is no description of the other 6% of children). Neither study provided details on the gender mix of their samples.

Risk and Protective Factors

Risk Factors
  • Family: Low socioeconomic status
Protective Factors
  • School: Instructional Practice

Training and Technical Assistance

Training is provided to both teachers and their local coaches. There are two training options. On-site Group Training and Coaching for up to 50 participants is available at a cost of $25,000 plus travel. A train the trainer option is available, again for up to 50 participants, at $37,000 plus travel.

Brief Evaluation Methodology

Interactive book reading has been evaluated in two randomized controlled trials involving preschool classrooms made up of children from low-income families. The 2006 study involved 16 teachers and 207 children, while the 2001 study involved two teachers and 121 children. The sample children were largely African American, were between the ages of 3 and 4 years old, and were enrolled in either Title I or Head Start preschool classrooms. Teachers received training in book reading and oral language development strategies. The children's vocabulary skills were tested using the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPTV-III) and the Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test (EOWPVT-III) immediately before and after the program was implemented (9 months in the 2006 study and 15 weeks in the 2001 study). The teachers were also observed in their classrooms to measure their use of the taught book reading and oral language strategies during story time as well as imbedded in the regular classroom activities.


Wasik, B. A., Bond, M. A. & Hindman, A. (2006). The effects of a language and literacy intervention on Head Start children and teachers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(1), 63-74.

Wasik, B. A. & Bond, M. A. (2001). Beyond the pages of a book: Interactive Book Reading and language development in preschool classrooms. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(2), 243-250.