Young Children’s Ability to Learn from Fictional Characters in Storybooks
Authors:Christian Astorga, Kalynn Haynes, Kyung (Esther) Hwang
Mentor:Nathalie Carrick, Assistant Professor of Child and Adolescent Studies, California State University, Fullerton
Young Children’s Ability to Learn from Fictional Characters in Storybooks Authors: Kyung (Esther) Hwang, Christian Astorga, Kalynn Haynes, California State University Fullerton Mentor: Nathalie Carrick, PhD., Department of Child and Adolescent Studies, California State University Fullerton Young children are exposed to fictional characters from an early age, for example, they see fictional characters in storybooks. While reading storybooks with their parents, they are expected to learn information about the real world from these characters. That is, a dog can teach children colors. However, it is unknown whether this is an effective method of learning for young children. The current study examines differences in16- and 18-month-olds’ ability to learn a novel word from either a fictional or real character in a storybook. Toddlers heard a story in which a teddy bear or real boy labeled a series of familiar objects and one unfamiliar object with a novel word. Toddlers were then asked to identify the novel object with the novel word. Thus far, data on ten toddlers have been collected, but data collection is ongoing. Preliminary analysis using independent sample t-tests reveal that there is no difference in toddler’s ability to learn a new word in the fictional or real condition (p> .05). This suggests that fantasy may be as effective as a tool for learning real-world information as is reality. However, 1) more data must be collected and 2) whether fantasy will continue to be effective for children’s learning of more complex information (e.g., following directions, morality) is still in need of investigation.