Publication details [#60923]

Salerni, Nicoletta, Chiara Suttora, Laura Zampini, Mirco Fasolo, Paola Zanchi and Maria Spinelli. 2016. Gesture production in the narratives of preschool children. Gesture 15 (3) : 306–320.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


The aim of the present study was to examine the use of gestures in the narrative productions of preschool children. Both the developmental patterns of gestures and verbal production and the relationships between them were analysed. The participants included 45 preschool children, aged 38 to 71 months. The narrative competence of each child was assessed individually using a new storybook narrative task (the Narrative Competence Task). Each child’s performance was videotaped to assess both verbal and gestural productions. The results showed that the syntactic complexity and lexical variety in the children’s narratives increased with increasing age, whereas the number of gestures significantly decreased. Moreover, the number of gestures was positively associated with the proportion of utterances without verbs and negatively correlated with the proportion of complex utterances. Therefore, one could hypothesise that gestures can be used as a support in narrative construction by those children who are less proficient in syntactic skills.