Storying Experience: Young Children's Early Use of Story Genres

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Text & Talk

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The purpose of this study is to support early childhood teachers’ understanding of the diversity and sophistication present in young children’s storytelling to counteract singular and tacit conceptualizations of story. Drawing on the notion of genre, this study uses systemic functional linguistics to examine rhetorical patterns in the storytelling of a group of children in multilingual and multicultural classrooms. Stories were collected in the context of a small group storytelling activity called story circles. Participation in story circles resulted in 176 stories. Children’s stories were parsed into story stages and story genres based on functional purpose and known patterns in the grammar of language. Results show that the children told stories that varied not only in length and complexity, but in choice of story genres. Further, the majority of children employed different genres of story across the four weeks of the activity. The children in this sample used storytelling as a vehicle for giving significance to everyday experience, elevating ideas and establishing relationships in the classroom context.



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