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Journal of Child and Adolescent Counseling
ISSN: 2372-7810 (Print) 2372-7829 (Online) Journal homepage:
Culturally Relevant Dialogic Reading Curriculum
for Counselors: Supporting Literacy and SocialEmotional Development
Amy L. Cook, Angel Fettig, Laura J. Morizio, Lauren M. Brodsky & Kaitlin M.
To cite this article: Amy L. Cook, Angel Fettig, Laura J. Morizio, Lauren M. Brodsky & Kaitlin
M. Gould (2017): Culturally Relevant Dialogic Reading Curriculum for Counselors: Supporting
Literacy and Social-Emotional Development, Journal of Child and Adolescent Counseling, DOI:
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Published online: 03 Aug 2017.
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Download by: [Australian Catholic University]
Date: 25 October 2017, At: 07:46
Journal of Child and Adolescent Counseling, 00: 1–14, 2017
Copyright © Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling
ISSN: 2372-7810 print / 2372-7829 online
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Culturally Relevant Dialogic Reading Curriculum for
Counselors: Supporting Literacy and Social-Emotional
Amy L. Cook, Angel Fettig, Laura J. Morizio, Lauren M. Brodsky, and Kaitlin M.
College of Education and Human Development, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston,
Massachusetts, USA
Social-emotional learning (SEL) and literacy skills are key components of child development.
School counselors are charged with supporting children’s holistic development to prepare them for
adulthood by implementing counseling curricula that focus on both academic and social-emotional
growth. School counselors can promote academic and literacy learning by engaging children in
counseling techniques that employ shared reading. Through reading and discussing socially and
culturally meaningful texts, children make personal connections with characters in stories, thereby
strengthening a love for reading. Creating personal connections to stories also helps develop
children’s SEL. This article describes using dialogic reading as a culturally relevant counseling
practice to promote SEL and support literacy development for kindergarten through third grade
children. Dialogic reading is a shared reading strategy that positions children as active participants in
adult-guided book reading and builds literacy and social-emotional skills. The dialogic reading
curriculum described in this article is designed for school counselors given their unique skill set in
promoting children’s SEL and academic development. There are limited interventions available for
school counselors that combine SEL and literacy skill development through culturally responsive
practices. Implications of infusing culturally relevant dialogic reading in counseling to promote SEL
and literacy learning are described.
Keywords: literacy, shared reading, social-emotional learning
The development of social-emotional learning (SEL) is a vital component of child development
(Berger, Alcalay, Torretti, & Milicic, 2011). Social-emotional learning is the process by which
children acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to understand and manage
emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and
maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions (Collaborative for Academic,
Social and Emotional Learning [CASEL], 2014; Dusenbury, Calin, Domitrovich, & Weissberg,
2015). Social-emotional learning functions as a framework to support healthy interactions
Correspondence should be sent to Amy L. Cook, University of Massachusetts Boston, College of Education
and Human Development, Counseling and School Psychology, 100 Morrissey Blvd., Boston, MA 02125, USA.
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between children and their environments. Social-emotional skills are essential to navigating not
only peer relationships and supporting positive developmental outcomes; they have also been
linked to improved academic skills (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2011; Shi & Steen, 2012).
Many children encounter substantial social, emotional, and mental health concerns. A recent
survey demonstrated that 29.9% of youth reported having felt so sad or hopeless almost every
day for two or more consecutive weeks during the previous 12 months that they stopped doing
usual activities (Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, 2014). Results from this survey point to a
need for a school counseling curriculum that proactively embeds SEL to mitigate barriers to
child success within the school environment. Successful implementation of SEL curricula has
been associated with an increase in children’s academic and social-emotional skills, including
social functioning (Harlacher & Merrell, 2010), prosocial behaviors (Kramer, Caldarella,
Christensen, & Shatzer, 2010), self-esteem (Shi & Steen, 2012), leadership skills, and study
skills (Brackett, Rivers, Reyes, & Salovey, 2012).
Given that social-emotional skills positively influence academic development, social-emotional
skill development and academic learning are not at odds. Rather, thorough applications of SEL
infused in counseling and classroom guidance instruction can help children better achieve
academic goals (Bertolani, Mortari, & Carey, 2014). Academic and literacy-focused counseling
interventions to promote SEL can be implemented throughout the schoolday. Educators encounter time constraints often requiring strict adherence to educational standards that limit curriculum
implementation to academic-related instruction (Bridgeland, Bruce, & Hariharan, 2013).
However, school counselors can support and enhance skills learned in the classroom through
counseling interventions that focus on SEL and academic development.
SEL and counseling services that support both social-emotional and academic domains of child
development have expanded (CASEL, 2014; Zhai, Raver, & Jones, 2015). The increasing presence
of SEL programming within schools represents a general acknowledgment that the development of
these skills requires a coordinated, systematic, and holistic approach that goes beyond a strict
academic focus to maximize both program effectiveness and child success (Bertolani et al., 2014;
Zhai et al., 2015; Zins, Bloodworth, Weissberg, & Walberg, 2007). Meta analyses on SEL programs
that adopt a holistic approach have produced a number of measurable academic gains (Zins et al.,
2007). The skills targeted through SEL programs have not only improved children’s capacities and
tangible outcomes as learners but also helped them to achieve lifelong success (Polleck, 2011). For
example, Shi and Steen (2012) observed positive growth in self-esteem among English as a second
language (ESL) children through conducting counseling group work focused on social-emotional
and academic development. When high-quality, counselor-led, SEL programs are implemented in
early elementary years, they can improve academic achievement outcomes while compensating for
existing skill deficits (Bertolani et al., 2014). Overall, the most successful approaches to SEL are
those that combine direct academic instruction with social-emotional skill development, while
providing opportunities to practice them (Chung & McBride, 2015; Cook, Silva, Hayden,
Codding, & Brodsky, 2017).
Implementation of SEL programming in schools can also improve the school’s overall
social-emotional climate and positively benefit learning on a systems level (Ray, Lambie, &
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Curry, 2007; Zhai et al., 2015). For example, a 2011 meta-analysis of school-based SEL
programs found those that followed a sequenced curriculum with emphasis on specific socialemotional competencies were more effective at improving both academic and social-emotional skill outcomes for children than programs that did not follow a step-by-step process
(Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011). School counselors can cultivate
positive school climate, SEL, and academic development, given their knowledge, skills,
training, and role as advocates for school improvement (Bertolani et al., 2014; Ray et al.,
School counselors hold unique skill sets to support social-emotional and academic development among at-risk children. The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National
Model guides school counselors to focus on both academic and social-emotional development
through culturally responsive practice in their day-to-day work with children (ASCA, 2012).
School counselors are also urged to position themselves as SEL consultants within schools,
working as advocates to enhance child success (Van Veisor, 2009).
In addition to SEL, literacy and academic skills are key components of child development that
require attention. According to the 2013 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP)
reading test, 32% of fourth graders scored at the below basic level, and 65% scored below
proficient (U.S. Department of Education, 2013a). In other words, almost two-thirds of this
nation’s fourth graders are reading below grade level. Even more concerning is the significant
achievement gap in literacy by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status SES; Reardon,
Valentino, & Shores, 2012). Fifty percent of African American/Black fourth graders and 47%
of Latino/a fourth graders scored at the below basic level on the 2013 NAEP reading test
compared to 21% of their White counterparts (U.S. Department of Education, 2013b). Moreover,
children from low-income families enter high school with reading levels at an average of five
years behind their higher-income peers (Reardon et al., 2012).
Achieving reading proficiency is essential for all young children, and educators have identified the acquisition of literacy skills by the end of third grade as an important developmental
milestone (Houck & Ross, 2012). Educators commonly identify the process of literacy skill
development as consisting of a focus on learning to read, which occurs from prekindergarten
through third grade, and a shift in focus on reading to learn, which generally occurs from grade
four onward. While the specific timing of literacy skill development may differ for each child,
researchers have highlighted the importance of continued acquisition of literacy skills beyond
fourth grade (Robb, 2011). Consequences of delays have long-term deleterious effects on
academic performance, and children from low-income backgrounds are at greater risk for delays
due to inadequate access to literacy-rich environments and engaging in regular reading (Brannon
& Dauksas, 2012). Promoting long-term academic and postsecondary success consists of
building literacy skills during early childhood and sustaining progress as children grow (Annie
E. Casey Foundation, 2011). Thus, greater attention to literacy development is necessary, while
also supporting children’s social-emotional skill acquisition. School counselors can employ
strategies that reinforce literacy and academic learning while focusing on social-emotional
development (Bertolani et al., 2014; Cook et al., 2017).
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To ensure that children exercise their literacy skills, it is important to support children in
developing an intrinsic motivation to read and to make personal connections with characters in
stories (McRae & Guthrie, 2009; Sanacore, 2012). By teaching children to connect their
personal lives with characters in the texts, they engage with the material on a deep level,
increasing their understanding of both the words on the page and the characters’ experiences
(Sanacore, 2012; Vansteenkiste, Lens, & Deci, 2006). This process offers children the opportunity to learn to read as well as to read to learn, while fostering SEL. School counselors are well
positioned to facilitate making personal connections to stories given their expertise in promoting
academic and social-emotional development (Ramirez, Jain, Flores-Torres, Perez, & Carlson,
SEL programs that incorporate literacy-based strategies have significant impacts for children
who live in low-income communities, as these curricula are expected to improve skills in socialemotional and academic domains (Daunic et al., 2013). In a study that targeted SEL and
language/emergent literacy skills with preschool children from low-income and racial minority
backgrounds, researchers found significant growth in SEL, including understanding emotions
and positive social behavior, and enhanced language and literacy skills (Nix, Bierman,
Domitrovich, & Gill, 2013). Similarly, Cook et al. (2017) employed shared reading strategies
in group counseling with third grade Latina/o children, and found growth in academic engagement, communication skills, problem solving, self-confidence, and self-management. Ramirez
et al. (2009) also observed growth in personal development among Mexican-American children
who participated in cuento therapy, a culturally sensitive counseling intervention that uses shared
reading and storytelling. Considering the positive outcomes of literacy-based SEL programming,
coupled with gaps in social-emotional development between children from at-risk, low-resource
environments and their higher-income peers, demands the need for more intensive SEL programming for at-risk children (Clinton, Edstrom, Mildon, & Davila, 2014).
Programs that target SEL can be most effective when counselors and educators integrate cultural
responsiveness in curriculum delivery (Cook et al., 2017; Polleck, 2011). Culturally responsive
practices are child centered, rather than educator driven, and focus on building positive relationships and appreciating children’s home culture (Hollie, 2012). For example, bibliotherapy, a
form of shared reading, involves the discussion of stories and themes related to a variety of
topics that can address mild behavioral and psychosocial issues (e.g., McCullis & Chamberlain,
2013) and appreciate cultural traditions and life experiences (e.g., Villalba, Ivers, & Ohlms,
2010). In this way, bibliotherapy permits a focus on holistic youth development that appreciates
personal and contextual factors. On the other hand, insufficient integration of culturally sensitive
SEL curricula in diverse classroom settings may place children at an educational disadvantage
by neglecting to value cultural backgrounds and experiences (Polleck, 2011). The use of
traditional curricula, pedagogy, and culturally irrelevant texts, particularly in urban and culturally
diverse school settings, may contribute to children’s feelings of alienation and disempowerment
(Morrell, 2004; Polleck, 2011). These findings call for counseling curricula that give recognition
and cater to the individual experiences of urban and culturally diverse children, while ensuring
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cultural relevance within the environments in which they are implemented (Grothaus,
McAuliffe, & Craigen, 2012). School counselors can take a central role in bridging connections
between home culture to academic instruction and SEL through embedding culturally relevant
shared reading strategies in counseling interventions.
There are limited counseling curricula available for elementary school counselors that
combine SEL and literacy instruction through culturally relevant counseling practice (Cook,
2015), but the need is substantial considering the broad potential impact on children’s development. Infusing culturally responsive shared reading in counseling provides school counselors an
effective way to augment literacy skills while concomitantly promoting SEL. The present article
provides a summary of the literature on literacy-based strategies to support SEL and literacy
development through facilitating connections between home culture and school. With these
understandings, we describe how elementary school counselors can deliver a shared reading
curriculum, dialogic reading, that infuses cultural responsiveness in counseling using children’s
literature to promote the development of SEL and literacy skills. Dialogic reading is a shared
reading approach that positions children as active participants in adult-guided book reading and
builds literacy and social-emotional skills (Daunic et al., 2013; Flynn, 2011). The culturally
responsive dialogic reading curriculum described in this article is well suited for school
counselors to be implemented through individual, small-group, or large-group counseling
instruction, with a focus on promoting SEL and academic learning for children in grades K–3.
During the early elementary school years, children’s SEL and literacy skill attainment impact
overall long-term developmental outcomes. Thus, it behooves school counselors to find opportunities to combine academic and social-emotional instruction. Developing SEL through shared
reading, in the context of storytelling, provides school counselors opportunities to augment SEL
and literacy skills in ways that foster a genuine love for reading (Sanacore, 2012), while
promoting social and academic success (Bertolani et al., 2014; Daunic et al., 2013).
The relationship between literacy and SEL are inextricably connected, whereby their integration may lead to enhanced self-regulation as well as positive social and academic development
(Daunic et al., 2013). Counselors can provide safe and transformative spaces through shared
reading groups where children can learn about and manage their emotions through literature. In
discussion groups, counselors guide children to process their personal experiences as they relate
to the characters in the stories (Cook, Hayden, & Denitzio, 2016). Shared reading groups not
only provide a safe space and social outlet for development but have also been shown to increase
children’s multicultural awareness (Polleck, 2011).
When children express an intrinsic motivation to read material related to their own lives, they
show a greater processing of the material they are learning (Sanacore, 2012; Vansteenkiste et al.,
2006). This intrinsic motivation is also important in a child’s initiation, sustenance, and
completion of reading tasks (McRae & Guthrie, 2009; Sanacore, 2012). Love of reading can
be fostered by providing children with opportunities for intellectual and emotional interaction
with texts that are culturally relevant and promote SEL. School counselors can engage children
in shared reading by asking open-ended personal questions about the text, which may also elicit
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greater participation and more connection with literature when reading independently. Making
emotional connections to literature facilitated by explicit instruction can also be beneficial to
children who struggle with literacy-related tasks, especially those who have special needs or
demonstrate reluctance (Sanacore, 2008, 2012).
Employing shared reading strategies can offer children the opportunity to hone social-emotional skills while simultaneously building and reinforcing literacy instruction (Daunic et al.,
2013; Fettig, Schultz, & Ostrosky, 2015). There is also preliminary evidence that supports the
integration of literacy instruction and SEL in counseling interventions to develop self-regulation,
social and leadership skills, and positive academic outcomes among at-risk children (Cook et al.,
2016; Cook et al., 2017). During the integration of shared reading in counseling, social problemsolving strategies and emotional vocabulary can be embedded to promote social-emotional skill
learning. Through specific book selections containing culturally relevant content focused on
social-emotional skills, school counselors can guide children in becoming active participants and
storytellers during shared reading. Narrative and play-based storytelling activities have been
shown to promote both literacy and social competence among young children from low-income
backgrounds (Nicolopoulou, Cortina, Ilgaz, Cates, & De Sá, 2015). More specifically, the
authors found that, through implementation of a reading and storytelling curriculum that
emphasizes relational and emotional experiences, children have demonstrated better narrative
comprehension, oral language skills, emergent literacy, greater self-inhibition, and reduced
disruption. Similarly, cuento therapy, a culturally relevant form of bibliotherapy that uses stories
to communicate traditions familiar to Latina/o children, has been used to promote academic and
personal growth (Villalba et al., 2010). For example, Ramirez et al. (2009) found that third grade
children who engaged in cuento therapy reported higher general and academic self-esteem mean
scores and lower anxiety levels compared to control participants. Given school counselors’
expertise in facilitating small-group counseling and classroom guidance instruction (ASCA,
2012), they can use shared reading to support academic and SEL development in a variety of
counseling settings (Cook, 2015; Cook et al. 2016). By combining literacy instruction and SEL,
school counselors can maximize children’s learning through targeted shared reading curricula.
These child-centered strategies not only help children understand how characters navigate
problems but also allow children to vicariously cope and translate these skills into challenges
they may encounter in their own lives. Children from socially marginalized backgrounds may
encounter stress to a greater degree than their nonmarginalized peers and can use these invaluable skills to help them confront personal stresses independently when an adult is unavailable
(Sanacore, 2012). In addition, socially meaningful interactions with text enhance critical thinking skills and peer collaboration (Sanacore, 2008, 2012). This approach helps equip all children
with important problem-solving and relational skills and fosters an intrinsic love of reading that
will aid in deeper understanding of texts throughout the life span.
Dialogic reading is a shared reading strategy that has demonstrated efficacy with promoting
literacy skills (Tan & Dobbs-Oates, 2013). There is also growing support for its application in
counseling to promote social-emotional and academic development (Cook et al., 2017). It can be
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used in a variety of settings, including school, community-based settings, and home (Huebner &
Payne, 2010). Dialogic reading is an evidence-based, adult-led shared reading method in which
the children take a role in interacting with the reading material presented. Through dialogic
reading, children become active participants in responding to a variety of adult-initiated prompts
(Flynn, 2011). Dialogic reading transforms the child from a passive observer into a storyteller
(Briesch, Chafouleas, Lebel, & Blom-Hoffman, 2008). The What Works Clearinghouse (2007)
identified dialogic reading as meeting evidence-based practice standards to promote language
development in young children. Dialogic reading has been associated with strengthened skills in
the domains of expressive language and emergent literacy (Zevenbergen & Whitehurst, 2003)
and is strong predictor of literacy development later in life (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2011).
The use of culturally representative literature in dialogic reading can also help children from
culturally diverse backgrounds deeply connect with the text and engage in the learning process
(Daunic et al., 2013). By incorporating culturally relevant text into dialogic reading, children
benefit from engaging in familiar or unfamiliar social worlds by expressing their thoughts and
feelings, while adopting and acting from the perspectives of others (Lysaker & Sedberry, 2015).
Graphic images are also an important consideration when implementing dialogic reading in
counseling. As children read text and view images in books, they can actively connect and
identify with characters who are similar to or distinct from themselves. This process leads to new
ways of thinking about themselves and others and invites children to factor issues of power and
fairness into their shared reading experience (Lysaker & Sedberry, 2015).
Dialogic reading has also demonstrated efficacy for children at risk from associated factors of
poverty, including expressive language difficulties or developmental delays. Children at risk
tend to experience social-emotional issues more frequently and are often the target of school
readiness promotion programs (Tan & Dobbs-Oates, 2013). Dialogic reading has the potential
not only to improve literacy outcomes but also to guide children in developing a well-rounded,
culturally informed social-emotional skill set (Daunic et al., 2013). Through the incorporation of
core SEL competencies, including self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making, into culturally responsive dialogic reading, children
hone a critical skill set throughout their development (CASEL, 2014).
In addition to honing literacy skills, dialogic reading is a flexible shared reading curriculum that
can be employed in counseling to target the development of SEL skills aligned with the
competencies detailed by CASEL (2014). These skills include self-awareness, self-management,
social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making, and they can be adapted
and/or substituted to suit children’s unique needs and strengths. The culturally responsive
dialogic reading curriculum can be delivered to large groups (classrooms), small groups, and
individual children. When delivering culturally responsive SEL in counseling through dialogic
reading, book selection is instrumental. A culturally responsive book should be age appropriate,
include fun plots that children will enjoy, and provide opportunities to embed age and culturally
relevant social-emotional skills (Fettig et al., 2015). The right book provides an abundance of
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opportunity for the counselor to embed targeted social-emotional skills as well as for children to
connect their personal experiences with the characters in the story.
To begin the culturally relevant dialogic reading, the counselor introduces the selected book to
children before reading begins by describing the title and illustration of the book and asking prediction
questions regarding storylines. Prompts and questions provided by the counselor then guide culturally
relevant discussions to address the chosen SEL skill according to specific guidelines. These prompts
and questions should follow dialogic reading guidelines by using the prompt technique of CROWD
and reading technique of PEER sequence. The C in the CROWD prompt technique represents the
word/sentence completion prompt, which provides children the opportunity to practice target vocabulary as well as assess the understanding of key culturally responsive SEL skills highlighted in the book.
The R is a recall prompt that asks children to recall what previously happened in the story. An O prompt
is an open-ended question to elicit what is happening in the story. The W prompt uses Wh questions
(what, when, where, why, etc.) to ascertain children’s understanding of the story and skills focused on
in the story. Last, the D is a distancing prompt that is used to guide children to relate pictures or words
of the story to personal experiences and encounters and should reinforce culturally relevant narratives.
See Table 1 for descriptions and examples of prompts and reading strategies.
The CROWD prompts are used in conjunction with the PEER sequencing technique. The
PEER sequencing technique guides counselors in elaborating and expanding children’s learning
Examples of CROWD and PEER
Book Title and
Prompt Type
Duck in the Truck by Completion
Jez Alborough
The Carrot Seed by Recall
Ruth Krauss
Prompt Example
Prompt Example
You are right. It did not move. It is Prompt What do you think this book is
still (“stuck”).
going to be about?
What is he doing here?
Evaluate Child: He planted a seed.
Counselor: Yes, it looks like he
planted a carrot seed.
Teamwork Isn’t My Open-Ended What do you all see R.J. and
Expand Child: They are dancing.
Thing and I Don’t
Bernice doing in this picture?
Counselor: Hmm, what does
Like to Share by
everyone else think? Are they
Julia Cook
dancing? No. It looks like they
are playing soccer.
When Sophie Gets
Wh questions What is she doing here?
Repeat Child: She is running away from
her house.
Really Angry . . .
Counselor: Great job! Could you
by Molly Bang
say it again so everyone can
Child: She is running away from
her house.
The Cow That Went Distancing
They are working very hard to
Oink by Bernard
help each other out! Have you
tried helping someone before?
Tell me about it.
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of targeted vocabulary, concepts, or skills. The PEER sequencing techniques include the
following four steps: P means to provide a CROWD prompt, E to evaluate children’s response,
E to expand on the response, and R, provide opportunities for children to repeat target
vocabulary or concepts. Prompts used within the PEER sequencing techniques reflect the use
of one CROWD prompting strategy at a time. CROWD prompts guide children to discuss and
reflect on the targeted SEL skills in the book. The counselor then uses PEER sequencing to
evaluate children’s response by indicating whether the answer to the prompt is plausible or
accurate. The counselor then expands on the children’s response through providing additional
information or rephrasing of the target skill. Last, the counselor provides the children an
opportunity to repeat the response to ensure they learned from the evaluation and expansion
process. See Table 2 for prompt examples and corresponding SEL target competencies.
Following the shared reading, the counselor can provide additional skills-building activities
during which children can practice the social-emotional skills learned through the dialogic
reading discussion. More specifically, the counselor can first engage children in role-play to
practice the new skill. Next, the counselor can encourage children to translate skills learned from
the shared reading into a culturally relevant skills-building activity to reinforce generalization of
SEL Competencies, Target Skills, and Examples
Book Title and Author
Fix it Duck by Jez Alborough
Prompt Example
Counselor: They wanted to use Duck’s truck to pull Sheep’s
little house, but the house wouldn’t connect to the truck. How
is Sheep solving this problem? (Open-ended)
Child: He is connecting the house and the truck with a ladder.
Counselor: Duck sure is very good at problem solving, isn’t he?
Have you
solved problems before? Tell me about it. (Distancing)
It’s Mine by Tracey Corderoy and
Counselor: What does “share” mean? (Wh question) “Share”
Caroline Pedler
means to use something together. Can you tell me about a
time when you had to share? How did it make you feel?
Teamwork Isn’t My Thing and I
Counselor: How do you think R.J. feels about sharing? (OpenDon’t Like to Share by Julia Cook
Counselor: Think about the times we played games together.
How do your friends feel after you share and give someone a
turn? (Distancing)
The Day No One Played Together
Counselor: What are they arguing about? (Recall)
by Donalisa Helsley
Counselor: They were getting along and now they are arguing
again. What could they have done differently? (Open-ended)
Matthew and Tilly by Rebecca Jones Counselor: Why are they not playing with each other anymore?
(Wh question) Does this happen with you and your friend
sometimes? Tell me about it. (Distancing)
Counselor: What can they do to solve their problem? (Wh
question and Open-ended)
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the focused SEL skills. For example, if the targeted skill in the book is turn taking, the counselor
can engage children in a game or other cocreated activity to practice turn-taking skills.
Throughout the activity, the counselor can encourage children to take turns by highlighting
turn-taking strategies used by the characters in the book or the brainstormed strategies during the
shared reading counseling discussion.
Research has supported the use of the CROWD and PEER acronyms within dialogic reading, with
children across SES statuses and settings showing significant gains in expressive language (Daunic
et al., 2013). Because of the positive gains demonstrated by children in a number of studies, dialogic
reading has been identified as an evidence-based strategy in What Works Clearinghouse to promote
literacy skills (Briesch et al., 2008), lending support to its application. The flexibility of the
curriculum also allows counselors to progress at their own pace. Once children’s behavioral outcomes
begin to align with the targeted SEL competency, the counselor can then select a new SEL
competency to focus on. A minimum of two shared-reading opportunities per competency is
recommended to ensure generalizability of the skill from one session to the next. Repeated reading
of the same book is encouraged to enhance skill fluency and to build on complexity of skills (Fettig
et al., 2015). The skills learned can be reinforced throughout other activities when interaction with
children is appropriate (Bertolani et al., 2014). Additional sessions could be added in the event greater
skill building is needed. During the session, school counselors can further facilitate learning by using
progress-monitoring data to evaluate children’s development toward personal goals (ASCA, 2012;
Carey & Dimmitt, 2008). The sequence of SEL skill focus is also flexible, allowing the counselor to
select the social-emotional skill to focus on first, thereby responding to children’s needs and interests.
Although the current dialogic reading curriculum is flexible and well suited for implementation
during the school day, it is important to note potential site-dependent considerations. By better
understanding the school’s climate prior to implementation, educator attitudes and instructional
styles, and children’s current level of learning variability and strengths, it is more likely that
school counselors can predict quality of implementation more accurately. If such factors that
predict thoroughness of SEL program adherence can be identified prior to implementation,
counselors may be able to provide more individualized support throughout (Wanless &
Domitrovich, 2015).
The quality of literacy-based SEL program implementation is directly related to positive
social-emotional outcomes. Thus, it is critical that these programs are implemented well to
ensure that intervention outcomes are not compromised (Evans, Murphy, & Scourfield, 2015;
Zhai et al., 2015). Oftentimes, SEL programs that are inadequately implemented are a result
of existing barriers to delivery, such as resource and time constraints, paired with inflexibility
of program adaptation that incorporates cultural congruence (Evans et al., 2015). Based on
what is known about literacy-based SEL programs and associated positive outcomes, this
dialogic reading curriculum for counselors is a low-cost intervention that can be effectively
implemented in a variety of school settings and is responsive to children’s unique needs and
During curriculum implementation, it is important to consider group dynamics among children.
As children learn to interact in new groups, their ability to learn is influenced by social and
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emotional interactions with peers (Slavin, 2002). It is important to note that children with academic
or attention difficulties may benefit by being given ample opportunities to respond and participate
throughout sessions (Cooper & Jacobs, 2011). Children who struggle with social competence can
benefit from being exposed to peers who may exhibit more appropriate interactions and responses
(Daunic et al., 2012). Moreover, group discussions on targeted social-emotional skills that make
culturally responsive connections between the school, home, and outside environments can assist in
the development of social-emotional skills (Sanacore, 2012).
To close the gap between at-.risk children and their peers, children from fragile familial and
social situations can benefit from additional generalization activities or booster sessions (Clinton
et al., 2014). Extra sessions and activities can also be enhanced by involving parents and
community members. When these stakeholders are involved in the literacy-based SEL program,
they can learn helpful coping and social skills alongside children. This collaborative process may
bridge gaps outside of the child–school relationship by compensating for associated poverty
factors within the community that may otherwise place the family at risk (Clinton et al., 2014).
While infusing shared reading in counseling presents opportunities for counselors to develop
children’s social-emotional and literacy skills, future research efforts are necessary to carefully
examine the impacts of such curricula. Additional research should focus on better understanding
connections between using culturally responsive dialogic reading in counseling and SEL development for school-age children across age groups. It would also be helpful to explore outcomes
of shared parent engagement in culturally responsive dialogic reading with a focus on promoting
mutual collaboration among schools, community centers, and families. Blom-Hoffman, O’NeilPirozzi, and Cutting (2006) emphasized that parents’ perspectives in regard to children’s
responsiveness to dialogic reading and its applicability are important for informing its implementation. Counselors can facilitate open communication between school and family constituencies. By building shared partnerships with families, school counselors can design culturally
sustainable interventions that best meet children’s needs (Cook et al., 2016).
Developing children’s SEL skills through infusing culturally responsive dialogic reading in
counseling can facilitate children’s success in navigating challenging social and emotional
issues. School counselors are well positioned to implement a culturally relevant dialogic reading
curriculum given their expertise in promoting child development and academic achievement. In
accordance with the ASCA National Model (ASCA, 2012), school counselors’ focus on literacy
development and SEL can help promote continued child success. Counselors and educators can
work collaboratively toward increasing the presence of culturally responsive dialogic reading
curricula in schools.
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