Story Friends™ – An Early Literacy Intervention for Improving Oral Language
Reading success starts here.
How do children become successful readers and learners? It’s a story that starts in their earliest years, when they acquire the language and literacy skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives. Sometimes, though, the story gets off track when young children struggle to learn and understand new words. Intervene early and keep these kids from falling behind with Story Friends™, a fun and engaging language intervention program for 4- to 6-year-olds.
Through 26 interactive storybooks about funny, relatable animals, Story Friends effectively boosts the early language skills that predict success in reading. The program encourages active response: each storybook provides up to 20 opportunities for interaction, as children answer vocabulary prompts and comprehension questions. Not only does Story Friends introduce children to challenging new words—from enormous to exhausted—it also helps kids master key concept words like high, low, many, and few, which will help them learn new academic content faster and easier. And through the lessons woven into the animals vibrantly illustrated stories, children strengthen other important skills, such as solving problems, empathizing, working together, and making friends with others who are different.
How Story Friends helps young children learn:
- Teaches new language skills through explicit teaching and modeling
- Teaches new vocabulary words through repeated readings of storybooks
- Teaches comprehension skills through multiple exposures to vocabulary
- Teaches critical thinking skills through interactive books that engage and challenge young minds
- Teaches listening skills through interaction with audio recordings
- Teaches social-emotional skills through books that teach prosocial behavior
- Gets children ready to read and succeed in school by addressing predictors of reading success
- Gives children the foundation they need to “learn new concepts through literacy while learning how to use literacy to learn.”—Nickola Wolf Nelson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, BCS-CL, Professor Emerita, Western Michigan University
- Hooks young attention spans with fun illustrations, appealing animal characters, rhyming text, interactive story components, and lively narration from Wanda the Word Wolf
- Helps children learn critical social and emotional skills, including empathy and cooperation
- Answers the call for research-based interventions—Story Friends was developed by leading early childhood researchers
- Fits into your existing schedule and requires no special training
How it works:
First, identify children who will benefit from using Story Friends. You can use information from universal screening and progress monitoring assessments, as well as the screening questionnaire included in Story Friends program.
In small groups, children listen to recorded stories on your classroom’s headphones as they follow along in printed storybooks. A facilitator should guide the session, which takes just 10 to 15 minutes. As children listen, Story Friends narrator Wanda the Word Wolf prompts them to interact with the book through fun vocabulary activities and comprehension questions. This expands children’s early language and literacy skills and promotes critical thinking.
Check children’s learning by administering the Story Friends progress monitoring assessments: Unit Vocabulary and pre- and post- Concept Words Assessments. See a sample pre-test and post-test
View a sample storybook and hear the instruction
Story Friends At A Glance
What is it?
A fun and effective intervention program for boosting early literacy skills in preschoolers and kindergartners at risk for later reading difficulties
What skills does it target?
Oral language, specifically vocabulary and comprehension skills. Also supports comprehension, problem-solving, listening skills, and phonological awareness.
What age range is it for?
4- to 6-year-old preschool and kindergarten children
What programs benefit?
Head Start programs, public preschool classrooms, child care programs, kindergarten classrooms
Who uses it?
Early childhood educators/special educators, literacy specialists, literacy coaches, speech-language pathologists, paraprofessionals, teacher aides, classroom volunteers
How long does it take?
26 weeks total. One listening session a day; each listening session takes approximately 10–15 minutes. Children have 3 sessions a week, listening to the same storybook/narration 3 times.
Is it research-based?
Story Friends is an evidence-based intervention backed up with multiple research studies. Between 2010 and 2014, five experimental studies were conducted on the Story Friends program, focusing on how it affects vocabulary and oral language development in at-risk pre-K populations.
The findings were clear: Story Friends was easy to implement, worked well with existing curricula, and resulted in substantial word-learning gains. Read a white paper on the research.
Is training required?
Story Friends is easy to implement, with no specific training needed. Free online professional development modules are provided. All the instructions to the children are provided in the pre-recorded audio narration.