[Journal of Narrative and Life History 4:4] 1994
► pp. 331–352
"Thunder Is When the Angels Are Upstairs Bowling": Narratives and Explanations at the Dinner Table
Abstract The domain of narrative is often assumed to be the first extended discourse genre accessible to young children, and a natural mode for representing and remembering information. Ultimately, however, children must move beyond narrative to include other genres within their competency, such as explanation. Furthermore, narrative and explanation share a number of features that might lead one to expect more or less parallel development. We studied the occurrence of narrative and explanatory sequences of talk during mealtimes in 31 lowincome families with preschool-aged children. Narrative and explanatory sequences constituted approximately equal percentages of the total talk, but explanatory sequences were much briefer and more frequent than narrative sequences. Equivalent measures of narrative and explanatory talk showed moderate correlations, suggesting that families that engaged in one type of discourse also engaged in the other; this suggestion was confirmed by the finding that a large proportion of explanatory utterance were also parts of narratives. As 3- and 4-year-olds, children participated more competently in narrative than in explanatory discourse, though they requested many explanations at all ages. (Discourse Genres; Explanation; Development)
Cited by 47 other publications
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