Responses of young children to storytelling and story reading : an investigation into language and imagination.
Harrett, Jacqueline Roberta
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff
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This largely qualitative study had two main aims: to investigate the language young children used in their retellings of traditional tales told and then read to them in picture book form and to gauge their responses to these different modes of story. The hypothesis was that children experienced more vivid visualisations after storyteillings, having to create images for themselves rather than being presented with an artistic interpretation through picture books. Data were gathered in two large, inner city, multiethnic schools over a period of seventeen months from one hundred and forty nine children aged between five and seven. They retold stories they had heard orally or from picture books and were then questioned about their visualisations during these story experiences. These recalls and interviews were conducted audio-taped and transcribed with individuals. Initial analysis confirmed that older children were more adept at using language in this way, and richer data were available by concentraiing on children aged six and seven. Subsequently, in depth analysis concentrated on a core of sixteen children in this age range. Retellings were coded and given a score for identifiable events when compared to original texts. They were further examined for examples of repeated or 'created' story language directly representative of original texts, oral or read. 'Created' language was seen as a product of imagination. In semi-structured interviews directly following retellings children were questioned about visualisations they had experienced during story sessions. Visualisations were categorised into strands reflective of eiher direct storybased imaging or invented images. This revealed that imaginative responses to oral stories were greater than those related to picture book readings. Investigating visualisations of this type was not an area widely researched in the field of education so this study contributes to our understanding of the inner worlds of children and how they perceive stories.
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