Oral narrative skills are assumed to develop through parent-child interactive routines. One such routine is shared reading. A causal link between shared reading and narrative knowledge, however, has not been clearly established. The present research tested whether an 8-week shared-reading intervention enhanced the fictional narrative skills of children entering formal education. Dialogic reading, a shared reading activity that involves elaborative questioning techniques, was used to engage children in oral interaction during reading and to emphasize elements of story knowledge. Forty English-speaking five- and six-year-olds were assigned to either the dialogic-reading or an alternative-treatment group. ANCOVA results found that the dialogic-reading children’s post-test narratives were significantly better on structure and context measures than those for the alternative-treatment children, but results differed for produced or retold narratives. The dialogic-reading children also showed expressive vocabulary gains. Overall, this study concretely determined that aspects of fictional narrative construction knowledge can be learned from interactive book reading.

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Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
Department of Psychology

Lever, R. (Rosemary), & Sénéchal, M. (2011). Discussing stories: On how a dialogic reading intervention improves kindergartners' oral narrative construction. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 108(1), 1–24. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2010.07.002