Early Literacy Research Library (ELRL) - Article

The Role of Bilingual Discussion Prompts in Shared E-Book Reading

Yang, D., Xia, C., Collins, P., Warschauer, M. (2022) The Role of Bilingual Discussion Prompts in Shared E-book Reading. Computers & Education, 190, 104622.,

Access: FREE/Open Access

Publication year


study description

RCT, Correlational Analysis, Quantitative Analysis, Qualitative Analysis

core topic(s)

Shared Reading

Population Characteristics

International , Lingually Diverse , Race, Ethnicity, and Culture , Toddler/Preschool

Exposures, Outcomes, Other

Language and Literacy Development , Parent-Child Relationships/Interactions , Programs and Interventions (other) , Technology and Digital/Screen-Based Media


This randomized controlled trial study examined the effects of bilingual discussion prompts with feedback within a multimedia interactive e-book on parent-child shared reading for young English language learners aged 3–7 in China.


Bilingual shared reading prompts

outcomes evaluated

Story comprehension, retelling, and vocabulary


Of the 107 parent-child pairs that completed the study, 103 lived in China and 4 lived in the United States.


Sixty-four parent-child pairs read a multimedia English storybook with bilingual discussion prompts in the treatment condition, and forty-three pairs read the same multimedia storybook without discussion prompts.

sample size

n=64 (dyads)


Measure of English Vocabulary: English story vocabulary test containing two subtests to assess story receptive and expressive vocabulary
Measure of Comprehension: Story Comprehension test with simple closed-ended questions followed by follow-up open-ended questions
Measure of Retelling: Story Retelling test where children were cued with illustrations as recall prompts to retell the story


After reading the storybook twice, children in the discussion-prompt group outperformed the control group on story comprehension and retelling measures. However, children in both groups showed comparable gains in English vocabulary. According to our qualitative analysis of parent-child responses on discussion pages, when parents follow the question-response-evaluate-feedback flow of the discussion sessions, they tend to practice dialogic reading strategies and scaffold children's learning naturally and effectively without explicit training. With the learning facilitation from both the storybook and parents, children received more comprehensible input, produced more English output, and became active storytellers instead of passive learners. Moreover, the e-book with a built-in questioning avatar established children's parasocial relationship with the story characters.


These findings suggest an exciting potential for multimedia interactive e-books, powered by bilingual discussion prompts, as an effective educational tool for families from diverse linguistic backgrounds.


First, the findings on parent-child responses were based on qualitative analysis; thus, we cannot draw causal inferences about the extent to which the discussion prompts impact parent-child interaction and the use of dialogic reading strategies. Second, though user-experience interviews were conducted right after the reading sessions, cases of inefficient use of discussion prompts were not identified until later, after we had the opportunity to transcribe the parent-child interactions. For that reason, we may have missed some details in these interviews. Future user experience studies should examine the reasons behind such user behaviors to improve the e-book discussion prompt feature.