Dialogic Reading was initially developed by a group of psychiatrists, in the early 1980s, as a method to ensure adequate literacy levels for children from the lower classes in America. The method, in the first years, was aimed mainly at families in which parents dedicated little or no time to children or in which a too small amount of time was dedicated to reading and interaction between children and adults. In that first phase, the method relied heavily on the role of the teacher in classroom activity, who could establish a more continuative and attentive relationship with the children, somehow compensating for family educational gaps.
In fact, involving children of all ages in Dialogic Reading meant not only guiding them and helping them in the development of their literacy skills, but also meant establishing an active dialogue with the children, sharing their thoughts and concerns, around a neutral topic as a book can be. The children were not passive listeners of a story read by the teacher but actively participated in interpreting the story, evaluating every aspect and comparing it with their real life experiences. In this way, the teacher had a powerful tool to compensate for the lack of dialogue and the low literacy skills of the families.
Dialogic Reading proved extremely effective, so much so that numerous studies were conducted by pedagogues, psychologists and communication experts to optimize this method. But soon it was realized that, if the method had started as a solution to tackle low-income families’ problems in offering adequate literacy skills to young children (aged 3 to 6), it actually proved to be equally effective even with older children (from 7 to 12) with regular study paths and economically well-off families. The method proved effective as a general educational approach.
This led to a further push towards academic research on the method of Dialogic Reading, so much so that between the 90s and 2000s there were numerous and widespread studies on Dialogic Reading as an educational approach, which brought further optimization and began to spread knowledge globally.
Dialogic Reading has proven effective also with children suffering from developmental difficulties, ranging from dyslexia to autism.