Children Learn Words Better From One Storybook Illustration at a Time


Two experiments tested how the number of illustrations in storybooks influences 3.5-year-old children’s word learning from shared reading. In Experiment 1, children encountered stories with either two illustrations, one illustration or one large illustration (in the control group) per spread. Children learned significantly fewer words when they had to find the referent within two illustrations presented at the same time. In Experiment 2 a gesture was added to guide children’s attention to the correct page in the two illustrations condition. Children who saw two illustrations with a guiding gesture learned words as well as children who had seen only one illustration per spread. Results are discussed in terms of the cognitive load of word learning from storybooks.

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