Cultural variation in narrative competence and its implications for children’s academic success

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This concluding chapter ties together and comments on themes fromthe preceding chapters, situating these themes in the broader context of current research on Latino children’s experiences with academic discourse in schools. In the first half of the chapter, the findings presented in this book are situated within the important socioculturally based tradition of research on differences between the narrative styles of ethnic and linguistic minorities and those of middleclass, European American children, and the impact that such differences have had on the academic experiences of linguistic and cultural-minority children in U.S. schools. For example, qualitative investigations have shown that children from working-class, African American backgrounds tend to employ narratives that are associative in form rather than organized around a single topic. Narratives told in this topic-associating style tend to be negatively received by teachers, with the likely consequence that their tellers may grow to doubt their capacity for success at school-based language tasks. In the second half of the chapter, I discuss the ways in which the cognitive and linguistic skills implicated in narrative competence may provide a foundation for mastery of other modes of academic discourse and reasoning. I argue that in-depth studies of narrative competence and variations in narrative style such as those presented in this book are essential to deepening our understanding of children’s preparedness for academic success. Finally, I advocate incorporating education about various forms of discourse competence into professional development for teachers and offer some suggestions as to what might constitute such an education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpanish-Language Narration and Literacy
Subtitle of host publicationCulture, Cognition, and Emotion
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780511815669
ISBN (Print)9780521883757
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008


  • Academic discourse
  • Academic success
  • Cultural variation
  • Latino children
  • Narrative style

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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