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.

Books, Early childhood, Language development, Narrative construction, Shared reading, Storytelling
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