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The Significance of Storytelling

The Significance of Storytelling


Think about the last conversation you had. Did you share a personal story?

Chances are that you did. When you share a story, you employ narrative language structure. It is one of the primary ways we connect socially with others. Exposure to narratives can help promote perspective-taking and emotional awareness. Additionally, it has been noted to be a predictor of future social problem solving (Leyva et. al., 2014).

The application of narrative language, however, goes beyond social skills. Narrative language spans across oral and written language modalities and is the link between conversational exchanges and literate language. It plays an important role in the context of the classroom and is key for a number of academic areas including, reading comprehension, history, and writing.

In a number of studies, researchers have established links between early narrative abilities and later reading comprehension/writing abilities (Snow et. al, 2007; Suggate et. al, 2018).

The development of narrative abilities ranges from 3 years of age through adolescence.

  • Early narratives are comprised of a simple chain of actions.
  • Within the 4-5-year range, a series of actions is expressed within a causal format.
  • Between 6 and 7 years of age, children are able to speak to a character’s goal.
  • At 8 years of age, children begin to express a character’s internal response (mental or emotional reaction) and their subsequent plan or intention of actions, thereby forming a complete episode.
  • At 11 years, children are able to include multiple episodes in their narratives and embed episodes within greater episodes.
  • Into adolescence, narratives become more complex with references to multiple perspectives and the influential nature one’s behavior has on another’s actions. (Westby & Culatta, 2016; Moreau & Fidrych, 2008)

Supporting Storytelling at Home

At home, parents can help support narrative development by modeling personal recounts of experiences, retelling stories from books or videos, or creating fictional stories with their children. Emphasis can be placed on characters’ feelings and their plan to action. With stories being shared around them, children can see how a simple story can actually have a big impact both socially and academically.


For more information, cited literature, or resources, contact:
Syndy Margot, Nexus at Mead: