Does storytelling matter for preschoolers? (Best Evidence in Brief)

There is a new Best Evidence in Brief and this time I picked this study from this biweekly newsletter written up by Sooyeon Byun:

A research team in New York University evaluated a classroom-based oral storytelling program called Reading Success Using Co-Constructive Elaborative Storytelling Strategies (R-SUCCESS). R-SUCCESS is composed of three phases: pre-telling, which builds key content knowledge and vocabulary; telling, which involves specific strategies to scaffold children’s active listening skills and engagement; and post-telling, which supports children’s comprehension skills. The program was delivered at least twice a week for a 6-month period.
A total of 185 children within 12 classrooms participated in the study. The program was implemented in a Head Start program serving immigrant children with Latin American backgrounds. Among 12 participating lead teachers, six teachers in the intervention group were trained to deliver R-SUCCESS. The remaining six teachers, who served as a comparison group, were trained to have regular book reading sessions using the same techniques used in the pre-telling and post-telling phases in the intervention group. The key differences between R-SUCCESS and the regular book reading sessions were that R-SUCCESS did not require the presence of a book, used an oral storytelling method, and provided indicators of the story contents to children in the pre-telling stage. Trainings for both groups included a full-day introductory session along with 12 40-minute coaching sessions.
The study found that children who received R-SUCCESS were more likely to demonstrate stronger narrative independence and narrative coherence, compared to the comparison group. However, there were no significant differences in the overall language skills between children in intervention or comparison groups. Although the scaling the intervention might be challenging because the intervention involved a graduate student in the training, which can be not easily replicable in regular early care and education settings, this study provides an interesting finding regarding the potential role of differential story sharing modality.

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