What no bedtime story means: narrative skills at home and school

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From: Heath “ What no bedtime story means: narrative skills at home and school”

p. 99-105

What Mainstream children learn to expect/participate in during literacy events.



  Rules they learn to follow



6 months

Give attention to books and information

Derived from books

Reading cycles between mother and child (p.99)

(M: requests labels, talk, Q/A


6 months

Acknowledge questions form books (p.100)

Beyond labels

What …say? Who is…?


When they start to talk

Respond to conversational allusions in the content of books;  they act as Q/A who have a knowledge of books

Black dog on street linked by adult to children’s book


Beyond the age of 2

Children use their knowledge of books to legitimate their departure from “truth”

Adults reward “book talk” even when it is not directly relevant to ongoing conversation


Preschool children

Accept book and book related activities as entertainment

When preschoolers are captive audiences adults reach for books. Ask children to describe their likes, opinions etc.



Announce their factual and fictional narratives

Formulaic openings

Adults judge as best narratives which start with setting and character


3 years old

Children are expected to listen and wait as an audience

Adults start to discourage participatory role. Children prefer to “read” to the adults.

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