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Fiction reading experience predicts narrative production skills in 9- to 12-year-old children.

Hamilton, Lorna G. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0526-8252 and Cutting, Nicola ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3155-9566 (2018) Fiction reading experience predicts narrative production skills in 9- to 12-year-old children. In: Child Language Symposium, 25th - 26th June, 2018, Reading, UK.

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Print exposure predicts vocabulary, word reading and reading comprehension in middle childhood (Cain & Oakhill, 2011; Mol & Bus, 2011); there is also some evidence that reading for pleasure may scaffold the development of mentalising skills (Boerma, Mol, & Jolles, 2017; Mar, Tackett, & Moore, 2010), although the mechanisms underpinning these associations are yet to be established. Narrative production requires a range of linguistic, discourse organisation, and perspective-taking (mentalising) skills (Norbury & Bishop, 2003). The current study aimed to investigate the predictive role of fiction reading experience in 9- to 12-year-old children’s narrative skills.
We report cross-sectional data collected from 125 children (49% males; mean age 10;6) from the north of England. Measures of fiction reading experience, vocabulary, mentalising, and narrative production were administered during a single testing session. A factor score representing fiction reading experience was derived from an author recognition test, book recognition test, and self-report measure. Children’s narratives were elicited using a wordless picture book. Narratives were coded for eight variables tapping linguistic quality (e.g. syntactic complexity), discourse-level skills (e.g. cohesion; coherence), and psychological engagement with the story’s characters (e.g. mental state language use; false belief narration).
Correlations between children’s fiction reading experience and narrative production variables were generally weak to moderate in strength. After controlling standardised measures of vocabulary and mentalising, fiction reading experience was a significant unique predictor of two narrative variables: (a) semantic score (the number of propositions suggested by the illustrations that were included in the narrative); and (b) false belief episode narration.
These findings suggest that children who read more fiction show advantages in certain narrative skills, and specifically in measures that require the inference of narrative detail, including characters’ mental states, from illustrations.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Status: Published
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF712-724.85 Developmental psychology
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/3825

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