STAR Read-Aloud Practices are based on the tenets of print referencing. Print referencing is an evidence-based technique that has been shown to increase children’s print knowledge. Print referencing has been implemented with varying intensity. More recently, researchers have sought to determine the recommended dose for print referencing. The results of various studies support a recommended dose of six teaching episodes during two book-reading sessions per week for 30 weeks, for a total of 360 teaching episodes.
Authors: Jaclyn M. Dynia, Ph.D., Senior Research Specialist, Taylor Schwartz, Research Assistant, Marilyn Rogers, Research Assistant
Selected Citations: Justice, L. M., Kaderavek, J. N., Fan, X., Sofka, A. E., & Hunt, A. (2009). Accelerating preschoolers’ early literacy development through classroom-based teacher-child storybook reading and explicit print referencing. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 40(1), 67-85. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1044/0161-1461(2008/07-0098)
Justice, L. M., Logan, J. A. R., Kaderavek, J. N., & Dynia, J. M. (2015). Print-focused read-alouds in early childhood special education programs. Exceptional Children, 81(3), 292-311. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0014402914563693
Dose: Dose is the number of teaching episodes per reading session. It is important for adults to reference print enough times during a reading session to provide meaningful practice for children (Dynia, Justice, Pentimonti, Piasta, & Kaderavek, 2013). Studies have investigated reading sessions consisting of as few as five print-referencing episodes to as many as 20 print-referencing episodes per session (Ezell, Justice, & Parsons, 2000; Justice & Ezell, 2002; Justice, Skibbe, McGinty, Piasta, & Petrill, 2011; Lovelace & Stewart, 2007). Although each of these studies reported positive results, the recommended dose is four to six references to print per reading session (Justice, Kaderavek, Fan, Sofka, & Hunt, 2009; Justice, McGinty, Piasta, Kaderavek, & Fan, 2010). This dose is manageable for the adult and still allows for repeated practice.
Dose Frequency: The number of book-reading sessions per week is referred to as dose frequency. Studies have investigated interventions using two, four, and six reading sessions per week. As few as two sessions per week have been shown to be effective (Justice et al., 2009; Justice et al., 2010; Lovelace & Stewart, 2007). Additionally, one study found no benefit when comparing two versus four reading sessions per week (Justice et al., 2009). Another study compared four teacher-implemented reading sessions per week (a dose frequency of four) with six sessions per week implemented by both the teacher and caregiver (a dose frequency of six) (Justice, Logan, Kaderavek, & Dynia, 2015). Results did not show a benefit from six versus four sessions per week. Therefore, the optimal dose frequency is two to four book-reading sessions per week. However, children with low nonverbal intelligence who received six book-readings per week showed increased improvement in their print-knowledge skills compared to children who received only four book readings per week. Therefore, children at a higher risk for later reading difficulties may benefit from a higher dose frequency of six or more book-reading sessions per week.
Total Intervention Duration: Total intervention duration refers to the length of the intervention period. Print-referencing interventions have lasted from as few as four to as many as 30 weeks. While numerous studies have involved total intervention durations of four to eight weeks (Ezell & Justice, 2000; Ezell et al., 2000; Justice & Ezell, 2002; van Bysterveldt, Gillon, & Moran, 2006), the only empirically-based total intervention duration is a 30-week long intervention (Justice et al., 2009; Justice et al., 2015; Justice, McGinty, Cabell, et al., 2010; Piasta, Justice, McGinty, & Kaderavek, 2012).
Cumulative Intervention Intensity: Finally, the ideal amount of time spent on print referencing is the optimal cumulative intervention intensity, and can be calculated by multiplying dose, by dose frequency, by total intervention duration (Warren, Fey, & Yoder, 2007). Therefore, the optimal cumulative intervention intensity for print referencing during book reading is six teaching episodes during two book-reading sessions per week for a dose of 360 teaching episodes.
Dynia, J. M., Justice, L. M., Pentimonti, J. M., Piasta, S. B., & Kaderavek, J. N. (2013). Text features and preschool teachers’ use of print referencing. Journal of Research in Reading, 36(3), 261-279. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9817.2011.01502.x
Ezell, H. K., & Justice, L. M. (2000). Increasing the print focus of adult-child shared book reading through observational learning. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 9(1), 36-47.
Ezell, H. K., Justice, L. M., & Parsons, D. (2000). Enhancing the emergent literacy skills of pre-schoolers with communication disorders: A pilot investigation. Child Language Teaching & Therapy, 16(2), 121-140. doi: 10.1177/026565900001600202
Justice, L. M., & Ezell, H. K. (2002). Use of storybook reading to increase print awareness in at-risk children. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 11(1), 17-29. doi: 10.1044/1058-0360(2002/003)
Justice, L. M., Kaderavek, J. N., Fan, X., Sofka, A. E., & Hunt, A. (2009). Accelerating preschoolers’ early literacy development through classroom-based teacher-child storybook reading and explicit print referencing. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 40(1), 67-85. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461(2008/07-0098)
Justice, L. M., Logan, J. A. R., Kaderavek, J. N., & Dynia, J. M. (2015). Print-focused read-alouds in early childhood special education programs. Exceptional Children,81(3), 292-311. doi: 10.1177/0014402914563693
Justice, L. M., Mcginty, A. S., Cabell, S. Q., Kilday, C. R., Knighton, K., & Huffman, G. (2010). Language and literacy curriculum supplement for preschoolers who are academically at risk: A feasibility study. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 41(2), 161-178.
Justice, L. M., Mcginty, A. S., Piasta, S. B., Kaderavek, J. N., & Fan, X. (2010). Print-focused read-alouds in preschool classrooms: Intervention effectiveness and moderators of child outcomes. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 41, 504-520. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461(2010/09-0056)
Justice, L. M., Skibbe, L. E., Mcginty, A. S., Piasta, S. B., & Petrill, S. A. (2011). Feasibility, efficacy, and social validity of home-based storybook reading intervention for children with language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 54(2), 523-538. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0151)
Lovelace, S., & Stewart, S. R. (2007). Increasing print awareness in preschoolers with language impairment using non-evocative print referencing. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 38(1), 16-30. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461(2007/003)
Piasta, S. B., Justice, L. M., Mcginty, A. S., & Kaderavek, J. N. (2012). Increasing young children’s contact with print during shared reading: Longitudinal effects on literacy achievement. Child Development, 83(3), 810-820. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01754.x
Van Bysterveldt, A. K., Gillon, G. T., & Moran, C. (2006). Enhancing phonological awareness and letter knowledge in preschool children with down syndrome. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 53(3), 301-329. doi: 10.1080/10349120600847706
Warren, S. F., Fey, M. E., & Yoder, P. J. (2007). Differential treatment intensity research: A missing link to creating optimally effective communication interventions. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 13(1), 70-77.