Tell Me a Make-Believe Story: Coherence and Cohesion in Young Children's Picture-Elicited Narratives

Lauren R. Shapiro, Judith A. Hudson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

171 Scopus citations


The effects of 2 factors, previewing and inclusion of a problem-resolution structure, on children's ability to construct stories from picture sequences of familiar events were examined. Preschoolers only produced coherent and cohesive stories when provided with pictures that corresponded to a well-formed story structure. Children provided causally sequenced plots, referred to characters' internal responses, and used a thematic subject pronoun strategy when constructing stories with pictures containing embedded problem sequences. In contrast, children focused on actions, used simple connectives, and a less sophisticated pronoun strategy in stories when pictures portrayed typical but uneventful sequences of the same events. Thus, children were constrained by the stimulus materials provided and could only produce narratives that were representative of good stories when the information contained in picture sequences was explicit. The finding that first graders produced structurally more complex stories containing goals and plots and used more complex language, past tense, and temporal connectives than preschoolers suggests that they may have a more elaborate story concept. Previewing event-based pictures encouraged children to make narratives more storylike. This study indicates that providing episodic support reduces task demands in children's storytelling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)960-974
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Tell Me a Make-Believe Story: Coherence and Cohesion in Young Children's Picture-Elicited Narratives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this