Different fiction genres take children’s memories to different places

Kuzmičová, Anežka and Cremin, Teresa (2021). Different fiction genres take children’s memories to different places. Cambridge Journal of Education (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0305764X.2021.1937523

Abstract

Fiction, more than expository text, nurtures intimate connections between text and the reader’s life experiences. This dimension of reader response is underexplored in relation to children. Adapting methods from Empirical Literary Studies to educational research objectives, we employed the concept of “remindings,” i.e. reminiscing prompted by text, in studying children’s life-resonant responses to self-selected leisure books. Six workshops were run in primary classrooms during which participants (N = 148; age 8–11) engaged in remindings and mental imagery. Written remindings were then analysed for systematic variation across fiction book genres (Real-world vs. Fantasy; Relationships vs. Adventure). We found that Real-World Adventure books prompted remindings of discrete life events, while Real-World Relationships books prompted remindings of more diffuse experiences. Fantasy Adventure books were the least likely to prompt remindings. Further genre-based differences emerged in the distribution of themes within remindings. We consider the consequences of these insights for supporting young readers.

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