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Study: Black Kids Benefit Greatly From Oral Storytelling

By Victor Trammell

Photo credits: Ken Bedell/

A current research study has shown that when black children are read stories orally, it greatly enhances their individual reading performance and appreciation for good literature.

However, there is a difference in the effectiveness of oral storytelling for black girls and black boys. The difference lies in the age when it becomes most effective to read aloud to black boys and girls. The report based on this study was recently published in an academic journal called Child Development.

This study is entitled Different Tales: The Role of Gender in the Oral Narrative-Reading Link Among African American Children. Researchers from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducted the study while observing 72 black children (38 girls and 34 boys).

All of the children who were observed during the study were enrolled in preschool through the sixth grade. Dr. Nicole Gardner-Neblett and Dr. John Sideris were the authors of the final study report. "Findings indicate that although girls demonstrated stronger narrative skills, their narrative skills did not moderate change in reading," the authors wrote.

"For boys, narrative skills moderated change in reading over time such that as preschool narrative skills increased, their reading scores showed greater change over time. Educational implications and directions for future research are discussed," the authors continued.

Though a small sample size is used, this study seems to prove the biased, yet widely accepted notion that girls mature at an earlier age than boys do. However, in a subsection of the study, which primarily focuses on the gender of black children, the study authors list some reasonable theories as to why this notion about girls and boys rings true for some children.

A portion of this subsection reads as follows:

"Among preschoolers, it appears that girls are more likely to achieve coherence in their narratives as their stories are more likely to focus on the links between characters in harmonious social relationships; conversely, boys tend to have more difcultly creating coherence in their narratives as their stories tend to portray independent characters involved in conict or aggression. - There has been less exploration, however, of gender differences in the narratives of African American children." (Child Development, Wiley Online Library)

In the study's conclusion, the authors caution that further research is required in order to gain a better understanding of how closely narrating and reading comprehension are intertwined.

"Research that explores growth in childrens oral narrative skill in relation to growth in reading comprehension would elucidate the potential association between narrative and reading skills over time, and the extent to which the development of narrative skills contribute to the development of reading comprehension and vice versa," the authors conclude.

Much more helpful information is contained in this study, which could help you to assess your children. To purchase a two-day rental of Different Tales: The Role of Gender in the Oral Narrative-Reading Link Among African American Children for just $6.00, visit the link to the second research source listed for this article below.

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