BOX 4.5 Which Toy?
Consider the efforts to reach an understanding between an adult and a 14-month-old about which toy the infant wants to play with. The adult is looking for a toy in the toy box. When he touches the tower of rings, the baby exclaims, “Aa!” The adult responds, “Aa?” picking up the tower. The infant continues looking at the toy box and ignores the tower, so the adult shows the baby the tower and again asks “Aa?” The baby points at something in the toy box grunting, “Aa…aa…” The adult reaches toward the toy box again, and the infant exclaims, “Tue!” The adult exclaimed “Aa!” as he picks up the peekaboo cloth and shows it to the infant. But the infant ignores the cloth and points again at something in the toy box, then, impatiently, waves his arm. The adult responds, “Aa?” But the baby points down to the side of the toy box. They repeat the cycle with another toy, and the baby waves his arm impatiently. The adult says “You show me!” and lifts the baby to his lap from the high chair. The adult then picks up the jack-in-the-box, asking, “This?” —the baby opens his hand toward the toy, and they began to play (Rogoff et al., 1984:42–43).
The importance of adult support of children’s learning can be demonstrated by considering the question: How is it that children, born with no language, can develop most of the rudiments of story telling in the first three years of life? (Engle, 1995). A variety of literacy experiences prepare children for this prowess. Providing children with practice at telling or “reading” stories is an impetus to the growth of language skills and is related to early independent reading; see Box 4.6. For many years some parents and scholars have known about the importance of early reading, through picture book “reading” that is connected to personal experiences. Recently, the efficacy of this process has been scientifically validated—it has been shown to work (see National Research Council, 1998).
In the late nineteenth century, C.L.Dodgson—Lewis Carroll—prepared a nursery version of his famous Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass books. The majority of the book consisted of reprints of the famous Tenniel woodcut illustrations. The book was to stimulate “reading” in the sense that contemporary children’s wordless picture books do. This was a first of its kind, and we quote Lewis Carroll (cited in Cohen, 1995:440).
I have reason to believe that “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” has been read by some hundreds of English Children, aged from Five to Fifteen: also by Children aged from Fifteen to Twenty-five: yet again by Children aged