Book reading as a shared multimodal activity

Submitted by: Johannes Mayer
Abstract: Studies show the importance of shared book reading interactions within families as a basic factor for language acquisition, literacy and literary enculturation (f.e. Wieler 1997). Especially dialogic reading supports verbal and cognitive development in the early childhood (Whitehurst et al. 1988). Joint reading of picture books, for instance also creates an emotional intense situation where early literary experiences are embedded in interactions with a significant adult that scaffolds the literary learning processes with a temporary supportive interpersonal framework: a learning format (Bruner 2002). Perceptions of aesthetic structures can be a starting point for a conversation or narration, furthermore ambiguity, understanding and non-understanding can be a part of a shared reception and experience.
The explorative multiple case study examines situations of shared book reading in families, in pre-school and in primary school that were documented on camera and transliterated with GAT2. The reconstructive ethnographic analysis follows the analytical concept of key events or key incidents as a specific means of controlled data reduction and interpretation (Kroon/Sturm 2002) and focusses on aspects of multimodality in interactions between children, adult and peer.
The analysis shows ways in which modes of meaning interface with oral, visual, audio, gestural, and other patterns of meanings in literary experiences. The co-occurrence of different semiotic resources and inter-modal relations exemplifies the complexity of what can be called a shared understanding and a joint social praxis. Joint action and interaction in the early years of childhood provide the scaffold for children’s growing ability to comprehend what is happening around them, and what is being said in the situation. They learn to understand language and action simultaneously, since these complement one another.
One didactic conclusion can be that the staging of reading aloud situations should include multimodal activities to set a shared focus and constitute a domain of scrutiny. This might be especially important for adapting the inclusion model for Literary Education where theatrical elements can play an important part in creating literary events that allow experiences and a shared activity for all.

literary learning, read-aloud interactions, emotions, multimodality, performativity

Bruner, J. 2002. Wie das Kind sprechen lernt. 2nd ed. Bern et al.: Huber.
Kroon, S./Sturm, J. 2002. „Key Incident Analyse“ und „internationale Triangulierung“ als Verfahren in der empirischen Unterrichtsforschung. – C. Kammler & W. Knapp, eds., Empirische Unterrichtsforschung und Deutschdidaktik. Baltmannsweiler: Schneider Verlag Hohengehren, 96–114.
Whitehurst, G. J., et al. 1988. Accelerating Language Development Through Picture Book Reading. – Developmental Psychology, 24 (4), 552–559.
Wieler, P. 1997. Vorlesen in der Familie. Fallstudien zur literarisch-kulturellen Sozialisation von Vierjährigen. Weinheim/München: Juventa.