Introduction: The development of thinking skills is increasingly evolving as the one most important goals of formal primary and secondary education. Storybook reading is a well-established routine in early learning classrooms ranging from early preschool to foundation phase. As these interactions can typically be quite rich in exchanges and inquiry, the impact of book reading routines is significant, particularly as reading to young children plays a significant role in preparing them for later schooling. Aim: To describe how teachers interact during storybook reading with Grade R children. Methods: This study investigated five teacher’s interactions during storybook reading with their grade R (reception) classes in rural Zululand. The teachers were videotaped during 3 storybook reading sessions, these interactions were translated, transcribed and coded. Results and analysis: The results indicated that all five teachers interacted with the children throughout the storybook reading procedure. The teachers used a number of techniques that were suggested by researchers to increase oral language gains, emergent literacy gains and high cognitive thinking skills. Although teachers mainly used low cognitively challenging utterances, it was found that the teachers who gave the children the focus of control in the session, produced more high cognitively challenging utterances. The unfamiliar book was found to produce a higher percentage of high cognitive level utterances and teachers, who focused, not only on the story itself but on other concepts, produced more high level cognitive utterances. In general teachers seemed to favor requesting of information as a method of interaction and the highest percentage of high cognitive utterances, were found during the after reading period. Directions for intervention and for future research are discussed in light of the results.