Children Prefer Storybooks with Causal Information
Shavlik, Margaret Elizabeth
One way to foster early literacy is by engaging and inspiring children’s early interest in reading. Enriching the causal content of children’s books may be one way to address this goal, as causal information has been empirically shown to capture children’s attention. Indeed, young children appear to broadly prefer expository books, which are typically rich in causal information, over narrative books, which are more variable in their causal content. To more directly test whether children’s book preferences might be driven by causal content, we created pairs of storybooks closely matched for content and complexity, but with differing amounts of causal information embedded therein. Three- and 4-year-old participants (n = 48) were read both books and their interests and preferences were evaluated. Although ratings revealed equally high levels of enjoyment across book types, when asked to choose, children preferred the highly causal over the minimally causal books. Results are discussed in terms of broader implications for creating books that optimally engage young children, thereby potentially promoting interest in reading and early literacy.