Talking about books with young children: Analyzing the discursive nature of one-to-one booktalks
SourceEarly Education and Development
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Research Findings: Reading aloud to children is recognized as a pedagogically valuable practice. The literature suggests that the conversations that surround read-alouds are pivotal to their effectiveness. Yet teachers often find it difficult to foster lively booktalks characterized by abstract, complex thinking, especially with young children. This article presents a two-phase qualitative study of one-to-one booktalks between young students and prospective teachers. The study sought to examine the discursive nature of such interactions and scrutinize the implementation of responsive booktalk practices. Three booktalk categories were identified: (a) recitation booktalks, or conversations fitting the Initiation-Response-Evaluation pattern; (b) true booktalks, or lively, reciprocal conversations involving high student engagement and fairly sophisticated literary thinking; and (c) awkward booktalks, or conversations with a distinct 1-sided pull from the preservice teacher. Further examination of the 3 categories yielded 4 conceptually significant subcategories: skillfocused and moralistic within the recitation category and analytical and experiential in the true category. Practice or Policy: The study findings suggest that literacy courses should provide opportunities for reexamining established beliefs regarding literary analysis, for studying authentic discussion strategies and reflecting upon the discursive nature of booktalks, and for reconsidering the objectives of booktalks. © 2011 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.