Emerging Readers and Inferential Comprehension with Wordless Narrative Picturebooks: An intervention study

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Virginia Tech


Inference generation is a process that is key to successful reading (e.g., Bowyer- Crane and Snowling, 2005; Oakhill and Cain, 2012) and that begins to develop early in the reading acquisition process, through listening comprehension (e.g., Kendeou et al., 2009). Despite being able to generate inferences, such as cause and effect, as early as four years old (Lynch and van den Broek, 2007) inference generation is a skill not explicitly taught to many emergent readers. This study looked at wordless picturebooks and how they could be used with linguistic prompting to develop inferential thinking in young readers, building on the work of Grolig et al. (2020). The study involved a a quasi-experimental, 2-between subjects (wordless/worded picturebooks) and 2-within subjects (pre/post-assessment) design examining the impact of a reading intervention on emergent readers' inferential narrative comprehension. One group's intervention utilized wordless picturebooks, while the second group used a worded picturebook. The gains from pre- to post-assessment suggested that wordless picturebooks, alongside the planned prompts, did have an impact on the inferential narrative comprehension of the students (t (35) = 4.99, d = 1.63, p<.001) and that the intervention as a whole positively impacts members of both groups.



inference, comprehension, emergent literacy, emergent reader, wordless books