Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to analyze the effects of culture on the creative and stylistic features children employ when producing narratives based on wordless picture books.
Method: Participants included 60 first- and second-grade African American, Latino American, and Caucasian children. A subset of narratives based on wordless picture books collected as part of a larger study was coded and analyzed for the following creative and stylistic conventions: organizational style (topic centered, linear, cyclical), dialogue (direct, indirect), reference to character relationships (nature, naming, conduct), embellishment (fantasy, suspense, conflict), and paralinguistic devices (expressive sounds, exclamatory utterances).
Results: Many similarities and differences between ethnic groups were found. No significant differences were found between ethnic groups in organizational style or use of paralinguistic devices. African American children included more fantasy in their stories, Latino children named their characters more often, and Caucasian children made more references to the nature of character relationships.
Conclusion: Even within the context of a highly structured narrative task based on wordless picture books, culture influences children’s production of narratives. Enhanced understanding of narrative structure, creativity, and style is necessary to provide ecologically valid narrative assessment and intervention for children from diverse cultural backgrounds.