Turkish Parents' Dialogical Storybook Reading Experiences: A Phenomenological Study

Article excerpt

Dialogical storybook reading is a technique that supports the language skills competencies of children. With this study the dialogical storybook reading technique is introduced to Turkish parents. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to examine the Turkish parents' experiences with dialogical storybook reading technique. The data were gathered through in-depth interviews from 15 Turkish parents who applied the dialogical storybook reading to their children. Data were analyzed by using phenomenological study techniques. Six major themes derived from these data analysis were: frustration, negative transfer, obligation, solutions, active child, and distancing other parent. Implications are discussed and recommendations are made for future studies.

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The development of children's language skills for their prospective reading achievement is important. Studies, such as Storch and Whitehurst (2001); Cooper, Roth, Speece and Schatschiender (2002); and Storch and Whitehurst (2002) have documented that phonemic awareness is the best predictor of early reading acquisition and achievement. These studies also showed that language skills are important to reading acquisition because of their impacts on decoding skills such as phonemic awareness. Storch and Whitehurst (2001) found that language skills predicted 41% of the variance in decoding skills, such as phonemic awareness. Language skills also have direct significant effects on reading acquisition and achievement (Nation & Snowling, 2004; Olofsson & Niedersoe, 1999). Therefore, it is important to strengthen children's language skills during early childhood years. The purpose of this study was to discover the meaning of Turkish parents' experiences with dialogical storybook reading, and its effect children's language development.

Dialogical storybook reading is an effective tool for parents to support and extend their children's language skills. Whitehurst et al. (1988) developed dialogical storybook reading. Several experimental studies reported positive impacts of the technique on language skills such as, receptive vocabulary (Chow & Mcbride-Chang, 2003), expressive vocabulary (Hargrave & Senechal, 2000), and sentence complexity, syntactic complexity in speech, and variety in use of nouns and verbs (Valdez-Menchaca & Whitehurst, 1992). These studies' results showed that the dialogical storybook reading technique is an effective method to use in support of children's language development.

In order to modify the dialogical technique it is necessary to examine parents' experiences with it. The rationale here is that since the parents are applying the technique, they would provide information about their experiences with the dialogical reading technique (Whitehurst et al., 1988). Thus it will be possible to modify the technique according to parents' and their children's needs. No qualitative research has been done to the authors' knowledge on the processes parents are going through while they are applying this technique. The application of the dialogical storybook reading technique has the following impacts on parents and their children. First, the technique has potential difficulties for parents. Also it has potential effects on the parent-child relationship, and the parental role during the storybook reading. To apply the technique parents need to change their joint storybook reading habits. Therefore this investigation is searching for meaning of the experiences that parents' had with their children.

Qualitative data gathered through interviews with parents revealed the meaning of parents' dialogical storybook reading experiences (Creswell, 1998). A phenomenological study is, "a qualitative approach describes the meaning of the lived experiences for several individuals about a concept or the phenomenon" (Creswell, 1998, p.51). Phenomenological method is appropriate for this study because the study investigated meaning of dialogical storybook reading experiences of each parent as an individual (Creswell, 1998). …