Genre and evaluation in narrative development

Martha Shiro
Journal of Child Language 2003, 30 (1): 165-95
In this study I examine Venezuelan children's developing abilities to use evaluative language in fictional and personal narratives. The questions addressed are: (1) How does the use of evaluative language vary in fictional and personal narratives? (2) Is there a relationship between the use of evaluative language in these two narrative genres and children's age and socio-economic status (SES)? The sample consists of 444 narratives produced by 113 Venezuelan school-age children participating in 4 narrative tasks, in which personal and fictional stories were elicited. Findings suggest that age and socio-economic status have a greater impact on the use of evaluation in fictional stories than in personal narratives. Low SES and younger children are at a greater disadvantage when performing fictional narratives than when performing personal narratives. These results strongly imply that children's narrative competence cannot be assessed in a single story-telling task, given the importance that task-related factors seem to have on narrative abilities.

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