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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: British Psychological Society Developmental Section conference 2017, 13-15 September 2017, Stratford-upon-Avon.

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Print exposure predicts vocabulary and reading comprehension in middle childhood; less is known about how children’s reading habits relate to higher-level oral language skills. This study aimed to investigate the predictive role of fiction reading experience in 9- to 12-year-old children’s narrative production skills.

We report cross-sectional data from an ongoing longitudinal study. Individual variation in narrative production was predicted in a series of regression models.

Data were collected from 125 children (mean age 10;6) from the north of England, recruited via schools and advertisements in family publications. Fiction reading experience was assessed using an author recognition test, book recognition test, and self-report measure, which loaded onto a single factor. Children’s narratives were elicited using a wordless picture book; narratives were coded for eight variables (productivity, syntactic complexity, mean length of utterance, narrative cohesion, coherence, semantic score, mental state terms, false belief narration). Standardised measures of receptive vocabulary and single word reading were included as covariates.

Factor analysis of the narrative variables yielded two, correlated factors, representing (a) linguistic complexity and (b) semantic detail. Measures of narrative coherence and false belief narration were analysed separately. Weak to moderate correlations were observed between fiction reading experience and the narrative dimensions (r = .24 - .33). After controlling vocabulary and word reading, fiction reading experience predicted a small amount of unique variance in: (a) the level of semantic detail in children’s narratives, and (b) false belief episode narration.

These findings suggest that children who read more fiction show advantages in certain narrative skills; specifically in measures that require inference of narrative detail, including characters’ mental states, from illustrations.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
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/3826

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