Analysis of language use in public library storytimes

Maria Cahill, Soohyung Joo, Kathleen Campana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Public libraries are well positioned to support young children’s growth and development, yet few studies have examined programming to determine the extent to which they actually do. The current study investigated the nature of language use in public library storytimes as an initial step in determining their potential to contribute to the vocabulary and oral language development of young children. The study employed textual analysis methods with 22 storytime transcripts to identify token and type counts, the most frequent words spoken by participating librarians and children respectively, the major grammar elements present, and the top 20 nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Results suggest that librarians dominate storytime communication with language that is highly repetitive and complex, yet centered on children and cognitively accessible for them. Further, storytimes seem to promote cognitive and behavioral skills necessary for school success such as counting and exposure to foundational concepts like colors, size, and position.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-484
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Librarianship and Information Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • Language use
  • library programs for children
  • public library programs
  • storytime
  • textual analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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