Telling and Retelling Stories: Learning Language and Literacy


Young children are active participants in building language and literacy skills. They learn as they participate in meaningful experiences and interact with children and adults, constructing language during the process. Much of the language children learn reflects the language and behavior of the adult models they interact with and listen to (Strickland & Morrow 1989). Adults scaffold children’s language learning by providing a model that is expressive, responsive, and enjoyable. One way to enrich children’s language experience is through the use of storytelling. Many studies have shown that children build vocabulary, use more complex sentences, and improve comprehension when frequently exposed to stories. Egan (1986) explains that we remember best in story form; he supports the use of stories as a way of organizing curriculum for children. The magnetic quality of the story is the universal power to remember, entertain, teach, inspire, create, and know (Raines & Isbell 1994). Comparing reading aloud and telling stories Reading aloud and telling stories are both effective ways to share literature with young children and to support language and literacy learning. But while story reading frequently occurs in early childhood settings and is valued as an important tool to enhance literacy development, storytelling is frequently viewed as a frill and only occasionally used in classrooms (Cooter 1991). Mallan (1996) explains that the story and storytelling are essential to human existence. The story told has distinctive characteristics that make it an excellent technique to foster oral language development and provide a rich foundation for literacy. The experience of hearing a story told is more personal and connected to the listener. The storyteller can maintain eye contact and adapt the telling of the story to specificlisteners; a story reader usually follows the text exactly and focuses her eyes on the words on the page. The language of storytelling is often more informal than printed text. Listeners, regardless of their language skills or reading abilities, can understand the story because it is communicated through words, vocal intonation, gestures, facial expressions, and body movement (Mallan 1997). For these reasons, storytelling connects to the language of the children and thereby has the potential for increasing their understanding of the story. Storytelling promotes expressive language development— in oral and written forms—and presents new vocabulary and complex language in a powerful form that inspires children to emulate the model they have experienced. Stauffer (1980) says that the function of language is to communicate, and communication is the main purpose of language. In the personal setting of the storytelling environment, the storyteller’s language and the story together establish a rapport that encour- ages children to connect to the story using their own language and experiences. The storytelling experience assists children in generating stories and encourages their dictation and story writing (Nelson 1989).

[...] As children become more confident in their oral abilities and understanding of stories, they will want to select new stories for telling. In addition to stories about things they have experienced and the people in their lives, children can use story collections and new books to expand their repertoire. Young children create visual images and use their imagination to determine the story setting, characters, and happenings. The story becomes personally meaningful to them because they have been involved in the process. Children who are emotionally connected to their stories become motivated to master the goals of emergent literacy. They have the desire to communicate both orally and in written form. In this way, they share and preserve their stories to revisit (Brand, Trostle, & Donato 2001). Young writers often draw their stories. The storyteller is both authorand illustrator (Gillard 1996). Other children who dictate the events to a teacher later draw, scribble, or produce letters on the transcription. A familiar story serves as a beginning framework for writing of stories and for later original creations. Stories told include descriptions of the setting, detailed information about the appearance of the characters, and a clear sequence of action. These add enriched language that can be reused and variety in the rewriting of the story. Because stories told frequently include a narrative, children also use this more advanced element in the telling and writing of their stories (McGee & Richgels 2000). Αs children begin to communicate their stories orally, they want to record their treasures, dictating to the teacher or writing independently. They can read the written versions to a friend or take them home to share with families. The oral transcript consists of the words the children used in their telling, which makes the story an easy text to read. A collection of stories told in a classroom and transcribed is a wonderful addition to the literacy center, where children can “read,” enjoy, Jerome is talking with a friend in the library area of his kindergarten classroom. He begins, “I am going to tell you a story… Once upon a time, there was an old man who lived in a shabby house on a high, high hill. One day he walked to the market to buy a fish for dinner. He picked out an enormous grayfish and put it in his basket. On the way home the enormousgrayfish jumped out of his basket and jumped into a river and swam away. So the sad old man went home with no money and no fish. His wife was not very happy with him. She told him that if the fish jumped into the river it must be magic. She told him to go back to the river and ask the magic fish for a new house with two rooms. And he did.” This is the beginning of a very complicated storytelling by a five-year-old boy. His story continued until the entire Jerome’s Story sequence, including five requests to the magic fish, were related to his attentive friend. He even included the moral, “The man went home and found a shabby hut—because he asked for too much.” Jerome’s complete story is over 500 words—a very fluent retelling that clearly demonstrates hisdesire to communicate his ideas. He included many of the conventions of story that he had experienced when his teacher told “The Magic Fish.” Last week Jerome heard the story for the first time and this week it was retold. Today, Jerome became the teller of the folktale, and soon he will be telling and writing own stories.

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Ημερομηνία πρόσβασης: 27 Ιανουαρίου 2017