1st Edition

Self and Story in Early Childhood Children’s Developing Minds Revealed by Parent-led Research

By Hugh Crago Copyright 2023
    336 Pages 8 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    336 Pages 8 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Our children grow up into a world of stories—in books, on screens—but what do they make of the stories we offer them? What do they think and feel as they listen to a parent read a picture-book? What if a story confuses or upsets them?

    Over the past fifty years, several intelligent, committed mothers undertook the onerous task of recording exactly what their children said and did in response to the stories they shared. Some of their records extended over five years, or even longer. Their research, done without funding or academic supervision, offers us unparalleled insight into children’s minds long before they learn to speak—let alone learn to read.

    In Self and Story in Early Childhood, Hugh Crago draws on his unusual combination of expertise in literary studies, developmental psychology and psychotherapy to re-examine the startling implications of this neglected body of evidence. He highlights how much children can achieve without formal teaching, but with the supportive presence of a trusted adult who will participate with them in the story experience.

    This book will be of great interest to scholars of developmental psychology, early literacy and narratology, as well as to professionals working with preschoolers. Most of all, it will fascinate parents who themselves share stories with their child.

    Acknowledgements List of Tables Preface Part I - Foundations for Understanding: 1. Stories, Pictures and Young Children Part 2 - The Evidence: 2. Self in the Mirror of Story (Infancy to Early Speech) 3. Limits and Losses (Two to Three-and-a-Half) 4. The Magic Year (Three-and-a-Half to Four-and-a-Half) 5. ‘A Freestanding Fictional World’ (Four-and-a-Half to Seven) Part 3 - Conclusions: 6. The Interaction of Self and Story Children's Books Mentioned in the Text Scholarly References Index


    Hugh Crago has lectured in several universities and has published nine books and many articles. He was himself a parent-researcher alongside his wife, Maureen Crago. He lives in the Blue Mountains, near Sydney, Australia.

    Praise for Self and Story in Early Childhood:

    'Crago comes to the conclusion that stories do indeed influence children, but not in the simplistic ways that adults often imagine… a consistent and empathic understanding of the child’s daily reality is necessary, and equally important is a consistent and empathic response from the child’s caregivers. Crago makes this clear. He does it in a well-grounded and accessible way, authoritative but also entertaining. His inviting style and his thoughtful reflections on his data, the way in which he brings together diverse sources and out of them creates a convincing whole, appears to me exemplary. It is a pleasure to read Crago, and the significance of his approach to the evolving and changing questions of our lives is evident in every line.' (Wolfgang Loth in Systhema)

    'Hugh Crago’s book provides thoughtful insight into children’s development and learning with respect to stories. Using parent-led research Hugh leads the reader into considering what exactly are stories and how they impact children’s learning and development. This book is highly recommended for early childhood educators and parents to delve deeply into the reader’s role when sharing books/stories with young children.' (NZ International Research in Early Childhood Education Journal, Vol 25, 2023)

    Praise for the Author's Previous Works:

    Prelude to Literacy, 1983 (with Maureen Crago)

    ‘Like ships that pass in the night … some of the most significant clinical research slips past us … This volume describes a superb piece of multi-dimensional research’ (Carl L. Klein in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Review)

    A Circle Unbroken, 1999

    ‘… reminiscent of Erik Erikson’s work in terms of its psychoanalytic roots, its whole-life perspective, its anthropological and literary references, and its breadth and boldness’. (Graham Bradley in Psychotherapy in Australia)

    Entranced by Story, 2014

    ‘The most stimulating book I’ve read so far this year’ (James le Paul in The Gleaner)

    ‘Crago is brilliant, erudite, knowledgeable about authors and readers, a commanding storyteller himself …’ (Ralf Thiede in Children’s Literature Association Quarterly)

    The Stages of Life, 2017

    ‘Despite Crago’s clear debts to theory and research, nothing here is just slavishly echoed … this book is the product of true maturity’ (Wolfgang Loth in Systeme)