Early Literacy Research Library (ELRL) - Article

The Story So Far: A Systematic Review of the Dialogic Reading Literature

Pillinger, C., Vardy, E.J. (2022) The Story So Far: A Systematic Review of the Dialogic Reading Literature. Journal of Research in Reading, 45(4), 533-548. ,

Access: FREE/Open Access

Publication year


study description

Systematic review and meta-analysis.

core topic(s)

Early Literacy , Shared Reading

Population Characteristics

Infant/Newborn , Toddler/Preschool

Exposures, Outcomes, Other

Child Behaviors and Skills , Child Development (general) , Clinic-Based Programs and Interventions , Language and Literacy Development , Parent Behaviors and Skills , Programs and Interventions (other)


Dialogic Reading (DR).


Dialogic reading (DR).

outcomes evaluated

Literacy and non-literacy skills of children under 10 years old.


Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses protocol, the aim of this review is to systematically explore, synthesise and critically evaluate the extant literature. A systematic search of electronic databases identified 46 relevant studies, and the overall methodological quality of the studies was assessed using the MMAT.

sample size

n=46 (studies)


Measure of Quality Analysis: Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT), a comprehensive evaluation tool that allows for the concomitant appraisal of the methodological quality of qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods designs.


Findings are organised according to sample and population, country of origin and setting, programme duration, language and literacy outcomes, social-emotional and other cognitive outcomes, impact and effect sizes to provide overview and insight into where and with whom DR is most effective.


The review findings suggest DR can positively impact a wide range of language and literacy skills for children under 5 years. There is some evidence that DR can have positive effects on enjoyment of reading, reading motivation, parental–child attachment, parental confidence and stress. However, the extant research is subject to limitations, and more methodologically robust research is needed to enable thorough assessment of the conditions in which DR is most effective.


To the authors’ knowledge, the MMAT rating tool has not previously been used to evaluate educational research. Therefore, although it is a valuable tool in enabling consistent evaluation of different methodologies and popular in other areas of psychological research, its sensitivity and appropriateness to evaluating methodological rigour of educational research warrant further investigation.