Why Stepping Stories Work with Young Children

Why Stepping Stories™ Work with Young Children

Children’s stories are deeply embedded in Western culture. Studies show that if kids can identify with “iconic” pictures, they increase their comprehension and are able to replicate the action of the story. As a result, Stepping Stories™ are effective tools for teaching novel concepts in early childhood.

The Personalized Egocentric Phase

Personalized stories work because young children are in a developmental phase where their capacity to project themselves into a fictional character is emerging. This egocentric phase means they can see  only their own perspective. This is why children under three and half will often play hide and seek by hiding in plain sight and covering their own eyes. According to Jean Piaget, during this egocentrism phase,“The child… has not yet discovered the multiplicity of possible perspectives and remains blind to all but his own as if that were the only one possible.”

During this phase, children relish reading stories in which they appear as the main character. A Stepping Story will describe a change a child’s life in a realistic, recognizable, and personalized way, allowing the child to anticipate and prepare for the transition. The child can also project him or herself into the story more easily than if the story were generalized or abstracted around a fictional character.

Repetition for Mastery and Self-Confidence

Young children learn best through repetition and are hard wired to request and enjoy it. Studies show improvements in comprehension, novel word acquisition and ability to repeat actions after multiple exposure to the same stories. Children play in repetitive ways as they develop confidence and a sense of mastery.

Studies have examined how repeated exposure to stories is correlated with improved ability to perform a multiple step task and heightened performance on comprehension questions. Children as young as one year learn novel words from repeated exposure to picture books.

How External Story Books Become Internalized: The Inner Script

Children internalize external messages that are delivered through stories. The simple structure, personalized pictures and repeated delivery of Stepping Stories™ help outside messages move inside. Once the message of the book becomes the child’s inner script,  it allows the child to face change armed with a coping strategy and increased confidence.

Horst, J., Parsons, K.,  and Bryna, N.  (2011). Get the Story Straight: Contextual Repetition Promotes Word Learning form Storybooks.in Front Psychol. 2011; 2: 17. Kesselring, T., & Müller, U. (2011). The concept of egocentrism in the context of Piaget’s theory. in New Ideas in Psychology, 29(3), 327-345. 
Piaget, 1926/1929, p. 167  in Kesselring, T., & Müller, U. (2011). The concept of egocentrism in the context of Piaget’s theory. in New Ideas in Psychology, 29(3), 327-345
Crawley et al., 1999, for a similar effect, see Mares, 2006