Knowledge of Narrative

Once children reach school age, stories will become a central part of their reading classes, so it is helpful for young children to become comfortable with narrative and its elements, such as characters, dialogue, and “what happens next.” Young children are sensitive to sequence in language, such as following directions, and to sequences of events in stories.


Storybooks: From infancy on, mothers, fathers, babysitters, uncles, aunts, grandparents and day care workers can help children learn about narrative simply by reading and enjoying good storybooks with them. Storybooks can be shared anywhere—at the breakfast table, in line at the supermarket, on the bus, and, of course, at bedtime. Daily reading periods can be brief but frequent for very young children. Encourage children to start to pretend to read by listening attentively, making appreciative comments, etc. Encourage children to start these emergent reading events by saying, “Now how about you read to me?” or “Your turn,” after a book has been read (and liked) numerous times.

Oral storytelling: Children also learn about narrative through the oral stories they hear in the world around them. When they witness one adult telling another, “You’ll never believe what happened to me on the way to the store,” they begin to learn the magic, fun, and purpose of stories. Tell children some of your own stories, about when you were a child, or about your own parents or grandparents. With encouragement, parents and teachers can get children to tell of their own adventures in the form of a story. Encourage children to tell about special events, like holidays or trips. Use photo albums to remember and prompt these kind of stories.

Pretend storytelling: Puppet shows and formal storytelling events are thrilling and valuable experiences for children. But at home

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement