Caregivers’ strategies for eliciting storytelling from toddlers in Japanese caregiver–child picture book reading activities

  • Akira Takada Kyoto University
  • Michie Kawashima Kyoto Sangyo University
Keywords: storytelling, Japanese, language socialization, grammar, culture


Although storytelling is a central practice in everyday interaction, it is not an easy task for young children, because it requires extended turns-at-talk. To tell a story successfully, a child requires considerable support from the recipient. In this article, we examine how storytelling is facilitated in Japanese caregiver–child interactions, focusing on the strategies employed by caregivers to elicit storytelling from 2- to 3-year-old children during picture book reading activities. Our analysis indicates that caregivers employ various multimodal strategies in encouraging children to launch, develop, and end a story, and that these strategies are themselves effectively implemented through the application of several grammatical features, conventional expressions, and formulaic words. Hence, storytelling functions as a valuable device in orchestrating attention, affect, and morality in caregiver–child interactions.

Author Biographies

Akira Takada, Kyoto University

Akira Takada is associate professor in the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies at Kyoto University in Japan. His academic interests include caregiver– child interaction, language socialization, and environmental perception. He has conducted intensive field research in Japan, Botswana, and Namibia. He has published a number of articles, including ‘Generating morality in directive sequences: distinctive strategies for developing communicative competence in Japanese caregiver–child interactions’ in Language and Communication, 33, 420–438.

Michie Kawashima, Kyoto Sangyo University

Michie Kawashima is associate professor at Faculty of International Relations at Kyoto Sangyo University in Japan. She has mainly worked on areas of conversation analysis and health communication. She has published numbers of papers on interpersonal interaction in women’s health, palliative care, child care and emergency medicine. Her recent publication is ‘Four ways of delivering very bad news in a Japanese Emergency Room’ in Research on Language and Social Interaction, 50(3), 307–325.


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How to Cite
Takada, A., & Kawashima, M. (2019). Caregivers’ strategies for eliciting storytelling from toddlers in Japanese caregiver–child picture book reading activities. Research on Children and Social Interaction, 3(1-2), 196-223.