The Promise of Multimedia Stories for Kindergarten Children At Risk

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This research focuses on the ability of book-based animated stories, when well designed and produced, to have positive effects on young viewers' narrative comprehension and language skills. Sixty 5-year-olds, learning Dutch as a 2nd language, were randomly assigned to 4 experimental and 2 control conditions. The children profited to some extent from repeated encounters with a storybook with static pictures but more from repeated encounters with the animated form of the story. Both story formats were presented on a computer screen; both included the same oral text spoken in the same voice but the animated story was supplemented with multimedia features (video, sounds, and music) dramatizing the events. Multimedia additions were especially effective for gaining knowledge of implied elements of stories that refer to goals or motives of main characters, and in expanding vocabulary and syntax. The added value of multimedia books was strengthened over sessions. In a group from families with low educational levels who were lagging in language and literacy skills, multimedia storybooks seem to provide a framework for understanding stories and remembering linguistic information.

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