Narrative Skills

Northeast Library

Narrative Skills

Early Literacy tips for parents and caretakers of young children

Researchers say that there are six skills that are important for children to learn before they are ready to read:

  1. Print Motivation
  2. Print Awareness
  3. Narrative Skills
  4. Vocabulary
  5. Letter Knowledge
  6. Phonological Awareness

(Source: Every Child Ready to Read via Saroj Ghoting).  

What are Narrative Skills?

Narrative Skills include the ability to tell stories, as well as describing things and events. This skill set is important for reading comprehension; in simpler terms, it is grasping meaning from a story.

Remember that we are discussing early literacy skills: the skills that children develop before they can read and/or write, and that literacy starts at birth.  Your child is never too young to get ready to read!

Since your little one is not yet independently reading, its up to you to help him/her develop narrative skills.  The single most important thing you can do is read together (or attend story time at your library!)

What can you do while reading together to boost narrative skills?

  • Read a book together twice.  During the second reading, talk about the illustrations.
  • Read a wordless picture book together, such as Hunters of the Great Forest by Dennis Nolan, and talk about the story that the pictures tell (children will "read" pictures before they read words, and pictures tell a story too!)
  • Read books with repetitive phrases, such as We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury, and pause and let your child complete the repeated phrase.
  • Tell a story with props. Your librarian may use the flannel board to tell a story. You can do the same with things you have around the house, like puppets and toys.
  • Read a book with a plot (that has a beginning, middle, and end) such as Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion.
  • Try books with repetition in the plot, such as Paul Galdone's Three Billy Goats Gruff.
  • Choose a book that has a sequential or cumulative story, such as If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff.
  • And when you are choosing books, always pick something that YOU enjoy reading as well! Promoting the joy of reading should be present while learning every early literacy skill.  If you are enjoying yourself, your child will too!

Happy reading!

Interested in more early literacy tips? Attend story time with your child and check back at next month for another early literacy tip.

-- Cassie F., Children's Librarian