Something unusual and wonderful is happening with African-American babies.
Black toddlers who are good at telling stories are more likely to have strong reading skills in kindergarten, according to new research from the Frank Porter Graham (FPG) Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
Surprisingly, the same link doesn’t exist when it comes to white, Latino, or Asian children.
“Oral storytelling has been an important part of the histories of many peoples, and an especially rich aspect of the black culture across the African diaspora,” Iheoma Iruka, director of research and evaluation at the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska and one of the researchers for the study, said in a statement.
African-American children are particularly adept at telling complex narratives of many types, added FPG researcher Nicole Gardner-Neblett, who led the study.
“Having a repertoire of different styles suggests that African-American children are flexible in their narratives, varying the narratives according to context,” she said. “This flexibility may benefit African-American children as they transition from using oral language to the decoding and comprehension of written text.”
Using a sample of more than 6,000 children nationwide, the researchers compared the oral storytelling skills of preschoolers to their emergent literacy a couple of years later in kindergarten.
While the link was obvious only for African-American children, the researchers suggest that the association may also exist for other children. It just might not be apparent until later when more development has occurred.
What does this mean, practically speaking?
It means that parents and caregivers should encourage children — especially black toddlers — to tell stories. The oral narrative skills they pick up in preschool seem to help them begin to read. The more complex stories they tell, the better they are at reading down the line.
“Building on children’s oral narrative skills is a strategy for schools looking to connect with children,” Iruka said in the statement. “Especially as schools support children of color who come from a culture that has cherished these skills.”
While the researchers acknowledge there are still questions about early literacy, the study’s initial findings may offer educators valuable clues about how they can support children, particularly African Americans, as they learn to read.
What We're Following See More »
"Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court has stepped back from public life. ...She last made public appearances over two years ago. This summer she turned over an office she had kept at the Supreme Court to the court’s most recently retired justice, Anthony Kennedy. Her son Jay O’Connor said in a telephone interview that his mother began to have challenges with her short-term memory. That made some public events more difficult. He says she now stays close to her Phoenix home."
"The Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times. The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined 'on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.' The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with."
"Saudi Arabia said Saturday that Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist who disappeared more than two weeks ago, had died after an argument and fistfight with unidentified men inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Eighteen men have been arrested and are being investigated in the case, Saudi state-run media reported without identifying any of them. State media also reported that Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy director of Saudi intelligence, and other high-ranking intelligence officials had been dismissed."
"Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is scrutinizing how a collection of activists and pundits intersected with WikiLeaks, the website that U.S. officials say was the primary conduit for publishing materials stolen by Russia, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Mueller’s team has recently questioned witnesses about the activities of longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone, including his contacts with WikiLeaks, and has obtained telephone records, according to the people familiar with the matter."