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Dialogic book-sharing

Using wordless picture books, children lead engaging interactions with their caregivers

Children's brain and socio-emotional development are galvanised when they are active participants, as opposed to passive recipients, in an activity. During book-sharing, caregivers use wordless picture books to have engaging interactions with their child (under 6). They allow the child to lead, provide affirmation and ask stimulating questions on characters' feelings, intentions and perspectives.

HundrED 2023


HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED Global Collection 2023

Web presence






Target group
August 2021
Parents are their child's first teachers - book-sharing helps them to be their child's best teachers

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

A child's development in their first few years influences their lifelong education and health prospects. The parent-child relationship is one of the most powerful factors that influence how well they develop during these few years - sensitive and reciprocal relationships help children develop well. The purpose of this innovation is to help parents develop sensitive relationships with their child.

What does your innovation look like in practice?

Dialogic book-sharing is an activity between a parent/caregiver and a young child (under age 6). The caregiver is trained, through an 8 session group learning process, to engage interactively with their young children. Using collaborative learning practices, caregivers learn specific techniques on how to use wordless picture books with their child, they practice what they have learnt and are mentored on where they have done well and how they can improve. Some of the most important book-sharing techniques include paying attention to and responding to children's interests and asking meaningful and stimulating questions.
Through this process, caregivers develop more sensitive and reciprocal relationships with their young children - they learn how to communicate and interact in tune with the child.
Several research studies, including a randomised controlled trial, has shown improvements in parents' sensitivity and reciprocity, and children's socio-emotional development.

How has it been spreading?

Over the past few years, we have been building the capacity (training and mentorship) of community-based organisations (CBOs) to delivery the book-sharing programmes with families in their communities. We have trained ~25 CBOs across 4 provinces in South Africa. We have started integrating the book-sharing programme into the Department of Health in the Western Cape province. We train community-health-workers (CHWs) to deliver book-sharing introductions to mothers they are supporting as part of the First Thousand Days programme. We build capacity around the healthcare system, by creating links to the library systems in the districts already trained in book-sharing. This way, families can access ongoing book-sharing support. Over the next 3 years, our main focus is to expand this model.

If I want to try it, what should I do?

We adopt a capacity building model (i.e., Train-the-trainer model). We work closely with organisations/groups wanting to deliver the programme to families in their communities. We first train a set of "Book-sharing facilitators" to deliver the programme to families, and over a 1 - 3 year period, we then train up a subset of the facilitators to become book-sharing trainers.

Impact & scalability

HundrED Academy Reviews

This innovation has high scalability as it provides social relationship between the children and parents through dialogue understanding.

What a fascinating idea and something I have never encountered before. A way to support cognitive development and the nurturing of the relationship between the child and the adult involved, as well as a love of books from a very early age.

- Academy member
Academy review results
Read more about our selection process

Spread of the innovation

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