A study in Frontiers in Psychology, an open access journal, shows that mothers reading picture books to their children share just as much information about the content in narrative and non-narrative picture books.
The study from the University of Waterloo observed 25 mothers as they read books to their toddlers. One book about animals was narrative while the other book about animals was not. The study showed that the amount of statements by the mothers about the animals did not vary according to the formats. The conclusion of the study is:
Although non-fiction books and documentary films may first come to mind when one thinks about the genres of media that are likely to provide natural facts about the world, the present findings suggest that both narrative and non-narrative children’s picture books stimulate such pedagogical talk from mothers. While the narrative books promoted more references to individual characters, the non-narrative books elicited more instances of labels. Surprisingly, the two types of books encouraged similar amounts of generic talk about kinds of animals and talk about natural facts. Based on these findings, we leave the reader with one final piece of generic information: picture book stories aren’t just for fun; they’re for learning, too.
I love a study that proves the power of reading any sort of book to children. Beautiful!