Verb-relevant information in children's picture books

Carla Hudson Kam, Academic Team - UBC

23 January 2022


We are trying to figure out whether the ways children are often told to engage with books are actually useful for them. In particular, early readers are often encouraged to guess what a word they don’t know means, using the pictures on the page in combination with ‘what makes sense’ given their current oral language knowledge. This technique is only useful if you a) already have the relevant syntactic and word-level knowledge and b) the pictures are actually helpful.

We are starting by looking at whether adults can do this (guess the meaning of a verb) when reading common children’s picture books. Adults have the relevant linguistic knowledge already, so their only constraint is the usefulness of the pictures. We will expand this to look at how children who are early readers, and who have less robust linguistic knowledge, do in the same task. The goal is to better understand ways to facilitate understanding of novel words in early readers.