Date of Award

1991

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Ann M. Trousdale

Abstract

Three children's responses to three research-composed narratives were investigated. Participants were eight-year-old girls from the lower S.E.S., African-American culture. Study focuses on the composing processes used to write three children's stories and the responses of children to the stories. The author's intended meaning was compared with the children's construction of meaning. After each story was read aloud, response was elicited by each participant retelling the story and answering open-ended interview questions. One week later the participant was asked to retell the story a second time to determine changes in concept of story. Data were analyzed according to grounded theory methodology. Applebee's (1978) six stages of narrative form were used to examine the children's retellings, as well as Golden's (1984) criteria which considers plot structure. Data analysis indicated that the individual, selective, and active meaning that the children brought to the stories was influenced by their daily lives and the critical lenses through which they viewed the stories. All three of the children actively filled in gaps (Iser, 1978) which the researcher left open during the composing process. The participants found the moral lessons and happy endings important in the stories, with responses indicating a possible connection between proper behavior and a happy outcome. Responses indicated that the young reader does not necessarily derive the same interpretation of the texts as an adult attributes to the tales. Rather, children often gain an interpretation that is effected by their experiences and needs. Also, a child mishearing parts of a story may not indicate a mistake so much as his/her mind actively at work in order to have the story make sense to him/her. All three participants arrived at interpretations that seemed valid to the researcher according to Rosenblatt's (1978) criteria.

Pages

216

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