Story Friends™ – An Early Literacy Intervention for Improving Oral Language

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Reading success starts here.

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Story Friends LogoWhen preschoolers and kindergarteners struggle with oral language skills, how can your program intervene early and keep these kids on track for reading success? Your solution is here, and it’s called Story Friends! Fun, engaging, and effective, Story Friends is the first comprehensive, research-based Tier 2 intervention program for to 4 to 6 year -olds at risk for reading difficulties. Through interactive animal-themed storybooks and lively, engaging audio recordings, Story Friends effectively boosts oral language and vocabulary development—two of the most important predictors of later success in reading. A must-have program for Head Start, public preschools, child care programs, kindergarten classrooms, and other early childhood education settings.

Story Friends is part of the Multitiered Interventions for Language & Literacy in Early Childhood suite.

How it works:

  1. Identify
    First, you’ll 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.
  2. Implement
    Deliver the Story Friends intervention in your classroom’s listening center in 10- to 15-minute sessions, with a facilitator guiding and monitoring the session. In small groups, children listen to recorded stories on your classroom’s headphones as they follow along in printed storybooks. Each book has a cast of likeable animal characters and colorful illustrations kids will love. As children listen, the narrator prompts them to interact with the book by participating in multisensory vocabulary activities and responding to comprehension questions. This expands children’s early language and literacy skills and promotes critical thinking.
  3. Assess
    In Story Friends, learning of instructional targets is assessed using curriculum-based measures. You’ll administer progress monitoring assessments: Unit Vocabulary and pre- and post- Concept Words Assessments. See a sample pre-test and post-test.

See a sample storybook and hear the instruction


Benefits of Story Friends

  • Addresses the greatest predictors of later reading success: oral language development, vocabulary, and comprehension skills
  • Expands other important academic and social skills, including critical thinking, problem-solving, and empathy
  • Answers the call for proven, research-based interventions—Story Friends was developed by leading early childhood researchers from the federally funded Center for Response to Intervention in Early Childhood (CRTIEC)
  • Hooks and holds young attention spans with colorful illustrations, rhyming text, interactive story components, and appealing narration from Wanda the Word Wolf
  • Fits into your existing schedule and can be used with your current classroom curriculum
  • Requires no special training—just follow the simple implementation guidelines in the Teacher Guide and the online professional development modules

Story Friends At A Glance

What is it?
Tier 2 early literacy intervention program designed to help preschoolers and kindergartners at risk for later reading difficulties

What skills does it target?
Oral language skills and vocabulary development. Also supports comprehension, problem-solving, listening skills, and phonological awareness.

What age range is it for?
4- and 6-year-old preschool and kindergarten children

Where it is used?
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?
Many curricula claim to be evidence-based. Story Friends backs it 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?
Free online professional development modules are provided, but no specific training is needed. All the instructions to the children are provided in the pre-recorded audio narration.