Early Literacy Research Library (ELRL) - Article

Dialogic Reading with Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Kindergarteners: Does Reading with Parents or Siblings Enhance their Language Development?

Dong, Y., Chow, B.W.Y., Mo, J., Zheng, H.Y. (2022) Dialogic Reading with Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Kindergarteners: Does Reading with Parents or Siblings Enhance their Language Development? Developmental Psychology, advance online publication. ,

Access: Institutional Access

Publication year


study description


core topic(s)

Shared Reading

Population Characteristics

International , Kindergarten , Medical Conditions and Disabilities

Exposures, Outcomes, Other

Language and Literacy Development , Parent Behaviors and Skills , Parent-Child Relationships/Interactions


This study aims to extend DR to the shared reading context involving children with attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and their older siblings and to examine the effects of DR with parents/siblings on the language development of Chinese children with ADHD.


Dialogic shared reading and sibling interaction

outcomes evaluated

Language development


This study recruited 1,030 families from six citizen medical centers in Dongguan, China. Each of these families had at least two children at home, with one child aged around 5 years diagnosed with ADHD by a doctor from the medical center, and his or her sibling is a secondary Grade 7 or Grade 8 student with no special educational needs.


This study included 850 Chinese kindergarteners with ADHD and their parents/older siblings. These children were pretested on their Chinese receptive vocabulary, expressive vocabulary, character reading, listening comprehension, and reading interest and were randomly assigned to four groups, namely, dialogic reading with parents(PR-DR), dialogic reading with siblings (SR DR), parent reading control (PR-C), and sibling reading control (SR-C). After a 12 week intervention period, they were post tested on the same measures.

sample size

n=850 (kindergarteners)


  • Measure of Morphological Awareness: lexical level morphological awareness task of Tong et al. (2017) was adapted and presented in Mandarin.
  • Measure of Phonological Awareness: The syllable deletion task was used to measure the Chinese phonological awareness of the students (Tong et al., 2017).
  • Measure of Listening Comprehension: 15- to 20-character sentences selected from the listening comprehension component of Hanyushuipingkaoshi-level 5 (HSK-5, 2017).
  • Measure of Reading Interest: reading interest scale of Zhang and Xin (2012) was adapted and presented in Mandarin.
  • Measure of Nonverbal Intelligence: standard progressive matrices.
  • Measure of Intimacy: family members intimacy questionnaire of Sun (2014) was revised into the siblings’ intimacy scale and the parent–child intimacy scale by specifying siblings and parents in the items, respectively, with each scale comprising 16 items.
  • Measure of Demographics: the age and gender of children, family income, and the gender, age, and educational background of their parents/siblings….and an measure of interactive language activities frequency between the child and his or her parent/sibling in the last week (IFE).


Results show that both DR with parents and siblings effectively enhanced language skills and reading interest in children with ADHD. In addition, those children who read with their older siblings demonstrated greater improvements in their expressive vocabulary, character reading skills, morphological awareness, phonological awareness, and reading interest yet achieved a smaller growth in their listening comprehension compared with those who read with their parents. These findings showed the positive effects of DR on the language development of children with ADHD and highlight the importance of involving siblings in home literacy activities to facilitate the language development of these children.


This study highlights the positive impacts of DR and reading with parents or older siblings on ADHD children’s language development. It suggests DR as a useful method that effectively involves not only parents but also older siblings in facilitating language learning in ADHD children.


First, this study did not specify the language proficiency of ADHD children, whereas previous studies find that those children who have lower language proficiency may benefit from DR more than other children (Xu et al.,2022). Therefore, the effect of DR on ADHD children with different language proficiency levels requires further exploration. Second, the parents/siblings involved in this study had no special educational needs. Previous studies show that parents/siblings with behavioral problems positively affect the teaching and learning of children (e.g., Molinaro et al., 2020). Therefore, future studies should further explore the possible effect of those parents/siblings who have special educational needs on the language and reading interest development of ADHD children during DR activities. Third, the audio recordings from the control group were not analyzed. Therefore, we do not know whether the control group was an “active” or “passive” control group because there is not any information about what these families did during the at-home reading sessions. Lastly, this study examined the effectiveness of DR by comparing the DR and the control conditions. Further studies could investigate the contribution of the DR intervention factors to ADHD children’s language skills. For example, these studies could examine whether ADHD children who experience more or specific DR strategies from parents/siblings have more language gains in the DR group.