The development of narrative comprehension and its relation to other early reading skills

Julie S. Lynch, Paul Van Den Broek, Kathleen E. Kremer, Panayiota Kendeou, Mary Jane White, Elizabeth P. Lorch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


The first goal of this study was to examine young children's developing narrative comprehension abilities using theory-based, authentic measures of comprehension processes. The second goal was to examine the relations among young children's comprehension abilities and other early reading skills. Children ages 4 and 6 listened to or watched two authentic narratives. We measured their comprehension of these narratives as well as vocabulary and skills associated with word decoding. The results revealed that even the younger children were sensitive to the underlying structure of the narratives and that this sensitivity increased with age. Measures of narrative comprehension were not consistently correlated with skills associated with word decoding, such as phonological awareness. The results are discussed in terms of theoretical models of comprehension and of reading development. Practical implications of the findings are also explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-365
Number of pages39
JournalReading Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA); the Center for Cognitive Sciences, University of Minnesota; and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD-07151). Paul van den Broek received support through the Golestan and Lorentz fellowships from The Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study and from the Guy Bond Endowment for Reading Research, University of Minnesota.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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