Does your child retell stories after you are finished reading the book? Why is this skill so important? It helps build language skills!
What does the research say? I read an interesting article titled, Children’s Story Retelling as a Literacy and Language Enhancement Strategy. The study performed a meta analysis of 11 studies including 687 toddlers and preschoolers to examine the effects of children’s storytelling on early literacy and language development. According to Isbell (2002), “Retelling stories encourages children to use their imagination, expand their ideas, and create visual images as they transfer the plot into new settings, including different characters or new voices” (p 28). The finding of these studies shows that using certain characteristics are associated with positive child outcomes including improved comprehension of the story and expressive vocabulary. So, what are these characteristics that we need to use with our children?
According to Carl J. Dunst, Andrew Simkus & Deborah W. Hamby (2012), these are the characteristics below that help our children retell a story:
Story Introduction: Introduce the story by showing your child the cover of the book and asking them to predict what the book is about.
Repeated Readings: Reading the book several times.
Story Review: Present a brief overview of the story.
Relatedness: How does the book relate to your child’s own experience? For example, most recently when reading “Two”, my daughter related it to a recent experience she had with a friend.
Prompts child responses: Ask your child to make a comment or ask questions about the book.
Open ended questions: These are questions that require a more in depth response versus a yes/no question.
Asks for Prediction: Ask your child what might happen next as you are reading a book. This will also help target problem-solving.
Manipulatives: Using props or toys related to the book. These can include felt pieces or related objects that can help make the story more visual and tangible. There are many companies that create manipulatives. One company I have bought many manipulatives from is Lakesore Learning.
Visual Aids: Using picture sequencing cards or some other visual aid that can help the child retell the story.
Adult Prompting: This is where you come in! Asking and encouraging your child to answer questions and to retell the story.
Elaborations: Use conversation to expand and reconstruct the story.
Book Access: Child can hold a book and use the book for cues in retelling.
Dramatization: Act the book out!
Visual Aid: The child has access to the picture sequencing cards to help retell the story.
Manipulatives: Child is given prompts or toys to help facilitate retelling of the story.
When reading a book to your child, should you try to incorporate as many characteristics as you can?? No! That is too many, and children would get overwhelmed if you tried to incorporate too many strategies. The research found that using 1-2 characteristics was not effective, but three or more were effective. So, what is the optimal number of characteristics that you should implement when you and your child are reading together? Carl J. Dunst, Andrew Simkus & Deborah W. Hamby (2012) state that using 5-6 characteristics (in total with combined child and adult reading is optimal). The characteristics that had the most effect were relating the book to the child’s interest, introducing the book, asking open-ended questions and making predictions, using visual aids and prompting child retelling (Carl J. Dunst, Andrew Simkus & Deborah W. Hamby, 2012).
To read the full article, click here.
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Dunst, Carl, Andrew Simkus, and Debra Hamby. “Children’s Story Retelling as a Literacy and Language Enhancement Strategy.” Center for Early Literacy Learning 2nd ser. 5 (2012): 1-14. Web. 7 Nov. 2014. <http://earlyliteracylearning.org/cellreviews/cellreviews_v5_n2.pdf>