Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-684899dbb8-489z4 Total loading time: 0.234 Render date: 2022-05-18T12:05:27.275Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

Telling stories of experiences: Narrative development of young Chinese children

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 April 2004

National Taipei Teachers College


This study explores growth in Chinese children's narrative over a 9-month period. Sixteen children (eight boys, eight girls) living in Taipei, Taiwan, participated in this project. The children were visited in the home at ages 3 years 6 months (3;6), 3;9, 4;0, and 4;3 and were prompted to tell personally experienced narratives at each visit. Three dimensions of the child's narrative skills (narrative structure, evaluation, and temporality) were assessed from an individual growth modeling perspective. The results of this study suggest that Chinese children, generally speaking, include more narrative components, evaluative information, and temporal markers in their narratives over time. However, the growth patterns and rates of change for each child on each narrative measure vary.

Research Article
© 2004 Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Applebee, A. N. 1978. The child's concept of story. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Bamberg, M. 1987. The acquisition of narratives: Learning to use language. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Berman, R. A., & Slobin, D. I. 1994. Relating events in narrative: A crosslinguistic developmental study. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Champion, T., Seymour, H., & Camarata, S. 1995. Narrative discourse of African American children. Journal of Narrative and Life History, 5, 333 352.Google Scholar
Chang, C. 1998. The development of autonomy in preschool Mandarin Chinese-speaking children's play narratives. Narrative Inquiry, 8, 77 111.Google Scholar
Chang, C. 2003. Talking about the past: How do Chinese mothers elicit narratives from their young children across time? Narrative Inquiry, 13, 99 126.Google Scholar
Erbaugh, M. 1992. The acquisition of Mandarin. In D. I. Slobin (Ed.), The crosslinguistic study of language acquisition (pp. 373 445). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Feagans, L. 1982. The development and importance of narrative for school adaptation. In L. Feagans & D. Farran (Eds.), The language of children reared in poverty (pp. 95 116). New York: Academic Press.
Fivush, R. 1991. The social construction of personal narratives. Merrill–Palmer Quarterly, 37, 57 81.Google Scholar
Fivush, R., & Fromhoff, F. A. 1988. Style and structure in mother–child conversations about the past. Discourse Processes, 11, 337 355.Google Scholar
Fivush, R., Gray, J. T., & Fromhoff, F. A. 1987. Two-year-olds talk about the past. Cognitive Development, 2, 393 410.Google Scholar
Fivush, R., Haden, C., & Adam, S. 1995. Structure and coherence of preschoolers' personal narratives over time: Implications for childhood amnesia. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 60, 32 56.Google Scholar
Gee, J. P. 1991. Memory and myth: A perspective on narrative. In A. McCabe & C. Peterson (Eds.), Developing narrative structure (pp. 1 25). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Hemphill, L., Camp, L., Chang, C., Horowitz, S., Kasuya, H., Ovadia, R., & Winner, K. 1995. Narrative abilities in children with early corrective heart surgery. Paper presented at the Annual Boston University Language Conference on Language Development, Boston.
Hickman, M. 1991. The development of discourse cohesion: Some functional and cross-linguistic issues. In G. P. Bonniec & M. Dolitsky (Eds.), Language bases… discourse bases: Some aspects of contemporary French-language psycholinguistics research (pp. 158 185). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Karmiloff–Smith, A. 1981. The grammatical marking of thematic structure in the development of language production. In W. Deutsch (Ed.), The child's construction of language (pp. 121 147). London: Academic Press.
Labov, W. 1972. Language in the inner city: Studies in the black English vernacular. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Li, C., & Thompson, S. 1981. Mandarin Chinese: A functional reference grammar. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
MacWhinney, B. 2000. The CHILDES project: Tools for analyzing talk (3rd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
MacWhinney, B., & Snow, C. E. 1985. The child language data exchange system. Journal of Child Language, 12, 271 296.Google Scholar
McCabe, A. 1996. Chameleon readers: Teaching children to appreciate all kinds of good stories. New York: McGraw–Hill.
McCabe, A., & Peterson, C. 1991. Getting the story: A longitudinal study of parental styles in eliciting narratives and developing narrative skills. In A. McCabe & C. Peterson (Eds.), Developing narrative structure (pp. 217 253). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Miller, P. J., Potts, R., Fung, H., Hoogstra, L., & Mintz, J. 1990. Narrative practices and the social construction of self in childhood. American Ethnologist, 17, 292 311.Google Scholar
Miller, P. J., & Sperry, L. L. 1988. Early talk about the past: The origins of conversational stories of personal experience. Journal of Child Language, 15, 293 315.Google Scholar
Miller, P. J., Wiley, A. R., Fung, H., & Liang, C. 1997. Personal storytelling as a medium of socialization in Chinese and American families. Child Development, 68, 557 568.Google Scholar
Minami, M. 1996. Japanese preschool children's narrative development. First Language, 16, 339 363.Google Scholar
Pan, B. A., Snow, C. E., & Willett, J. B. 1993. Modeling language growth: Measures of lexical, morphosyntactical, and conversational skill for early child language. Unpublished manuscript, Harvard University.
Peterson, C. 1990. The who, when and where of early narratives. Journal of Child Language, 17, 433 455.Google Scholar
Peterson, C., & McCabe, A. 1983. Developmental psycholinguistics: Three ways of looking at a child's narrative. New York: Plenum Press.
Peterson, C., & McCabe, A. 1991. Children's connective use and narrative macrostructure. In A. McCabe & C. Peterson (Eds.), Developing narrative structure (pp. 29 53). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Polanyi, L. 1989. Telling the American story. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Reese, E. 1995. Predicting children's literacy from mother–child conversation. Cognitive Development, 10, 381 405.Google Scholar
Reese, E., & Fivush, R. 1993. Parental styles of talking about the past. Developmental Psychology, 29, 596 606.Google Scholar
Sachs J. 1982. Talking about the there and then: The emergence of displaced reference in parent–child discourse. In K. E. Nelson (Ed.) Children's language (pp. 1 28). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Snow, C. E. 1983. Literacy and language: Relationships during the preschool years. Harvard Educational Review, 53, 165 189.Google Scholar
Snow, C. E., & Dickinson, D. K. 1991. Skills that aren't basic in a new conception of literacy. In A. Purves & E. Jennings (Eds.), Literate systems and individual lives: Perspectives on literacy and schooling (pp. 179 191). Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
Umiker–Sebeok, D. J. 1979. Preschool children's intraconversational narratives. Journal of Child Language, 6, 91 109.Google Scholar
Wang, Q., & Leichtman, M. D. 2000. Same beginning, different stories: A comparison of American and Chinese children's narratives. Child Development, 71, 1329 1346.Google Scholar
Willett, J. B. 1994. Measuring change more effectively by modeling individual growth over time. In T. Husen & T. N. Postlethwaite (Eds.), The international encyclopedia of education (pp. 1 9). Oxford: Pergamon Press.
Willett, J. B., Singer, J. D., & Martin, N. C. 1998. The design and analysis of longitudinal studies of developmental and psychopathology in context: Statistical models and methodological recommendations. Development and Psychopathology, 10, 395 426.Google Scholar
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Telling stories of experiences: Narrative development of young Chinese children
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Telling stories of experiences: Narrative development of young Chinese children
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Telling stories of experiences: Narrative development of young Chinese children
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *