Nav: Home

Oral storytelling skills impact reading differently for African American boys and girls

June 21, 2017

The oral storytelling skills of African American preschoolers make a difference in how quickly their reading skills develop, according to a new study from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Researchers say the effect is much different for girls and boys.

"Knowing how to tell a clear and coherent story is an important skill for helping young children to develop strong reading skills, which, in turn, can help them to be successful across a number of different subjects in school," said FPG advanced research scientist Nicole Gardner-Neblett. "Prior research suggests that historical and cultural factors foster strong storytelling skills among African American children, which has implications for their development as readers."

Two years ago, Gardner-Neblett's own research was the first to demonstrate the connection between African American preschoolers' storytelling abilities and their early reading skills in kindergarten. That study found a link between storytelling and reading only for the African American children, from households across income levels, but not for any other demographic group.

Stark differences in reading achievement exist between Black and White elementary schoolchildren, as does a gender gap in reading outcomes, with girls outperforming boys. Because of both disparities in achievement, Gardner-Neblett and FPG advanced research scientist John Sideris wanted to better understand if and how gender plays a role in the link between African American children's storytelling skills and reading development.

"We asked preschoolers to tell a story from a wordless picture book and analyzed their skill in structuring and organizing the story," Gardner-Neblett explained. "We examined how boys' and girls' storytelling skills as preschoolers predicted their scores on a reading achievement test for each grade, from first through sixth."

According to Sideris, the connection between children's storytelling skills and reading achievement is more complex than expected.

"We found that oral storytelling is linked to different trajectories for boys and girls," he said. "Boys' storytelling skills had an effect on how quickly their reading scores increased from first through sixth grade. The stronger the boys' storytelling skills as preschoolers, the faster their reading scores increased over time."

Gardner-Neblett explained that preschool girls told more coherent and organized stories than boys did.

"Girls' storytelling skills appeared most important for their reading achievement during the first years of school," she added. "In contrast to the boys, storytelling skills were less important over time for the girls and unrelated to how fast their reading scores increased."

According to Gardner-Neblett, a number of studies have looked at factors that account for low reading achievement, but researchers have not paid as much attention to investigating competencies that are associated with successful reading outcomes among African American children. However, she said, this study suggests that educators and parents could capitalize on a cultural strength to support reading development by promoting storytelling skills among African American girls and boys.

"Expanding skills for nurturing children's reading development beyond book reading to include oral storytelling could be crucial for African American children," she said. "This could help to provide a strong foundation for success--and not only for how well boys and girls do in school, but in life."
-end-


Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute

Related Reading Articles:

Socioeconomic background linked to reading improvement
MIT neuroscientists have found that dyslexic children from lower income families responded much better to a summer reading program than children from a higher socioeconomic background.
Reading the genetic code depends on context
University of Utah biologists now suggest that connecting amino acids to make proteins in ribosomes, the cell's protein factories, may in fact be influenced by sets of three triplets -- a 'triplet of triplets' that provide crucial context for the ribosome.
When it comes to reading, kindergarten is the new first grade
A new nationwide study has found that children entering first grade in 2013 had significantly better reading skills than similar students had just 12 years earlier.
Scientists predict reading ability from DNA alone
Researchers from King's College London have used a genetic scoring technique to predict reading performance throughout school years from DNA alone.
Brain activity can be used to predict reading success up to 2 years in advance
By measuring brainwaves, it is possible to predict what a child's reading level will be years in advance, according to research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.
To understand others' minds, 'being' them beats reading them
We tend to believe that people telegraph how they're feeling through facial expressions and body language and we only need to watch them to know what they're experiencing -- but new research shows we'd get a much better idea if we put ourselves in their shoes instead.
New study finds reading can help with chronic pain
A study conducted by researchers from the University of Liverpool, The Reader and the Royal Liverpool University Hospitals Trust, and funded by the British Academy, has found that shared reading (SR) can be a useful therapy for chronic pain sufferers.
'In 50 years, reading will be much easier -- for computers and humans alike'
At a time when even something as fundamental as reading has been co-opted by digital brains, teaching computers to read has become a monumental task.
Aging bonobos in the wild could use reading glasses too
As people age, they often find that it's more difficult to see things up close.
Study finds brain connections key to reading
A new study from MIT reveals that a brain region dedicated to reading has connections necessary for that skill even before children learn to read.

Related Reading Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...