Snapshots of tellings in interactions between adults and children aged two, three and three and a half in an Australian context

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    This paper examines how and by whom tellings with two young children are triggered at ages 23, 36 and 42 months. The data for the investigation is derived from a larger Australian English corpus of over 50 hours of interactions in the home, although one of the children is a bilingual Italian/ English-speaking child. The data is derived from two parent/child dyads, and in the case of the child aged 42 months, a triadic interaction between a mother, her own child and a second child. Using the micro-analytic methods of conversation analysis, the study analyses five samples of tellings. The first two describe how a child, Cassandra, aged 23 months, is invited to recount events of her day by her parents. The trigger for these tellings is the social activity of sharing everyday routine events. The next two samples focus on Rosie at 36 months who is also invited to share a telling by her parent about a birthday party celebration and one about a neighbourhood cat, Claude. The first telling is triggered by an object, a balloon from a birthday party from the day before, while the second is triggered by play involving the character of a cat, initially derived from a favourite story, Hairy Maclary. In the final sample, Cassandra, aged 42 months, initiates a telling about an experience at her grandmother’s which is trigged by a picture in a book. The analyses in each case reveal the interactional issues that arise in the action of telling and how these are dealt with by all participants. By focusing on the three ages, key features in the children’s participation in storytelling are uncovered.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)119-143
    Number of pages25
    JournalResearch on Children and Social Interaction
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    • conversation analysis
    • Storytelling
    • young children's language

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