Contact Us

LIU Researchers Study Effects of Storytelling on Children in Uganda


Stephanie Koithan,Internal Communications Coordinator
LIU Post, Long Island University

How much impact -- from both a literacy and an economic standpoint -- does a library have on a community? An ongoing research project by Dr. Geoff Goodman, associate professor, Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at LIU Post; Valeda Dent, dean of University Libraries at Long Island University (LIU); and Eric Yellin, a doctoral student and documentarian in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program, is currently studying reading activity in mothers and children in Kitengesa, a village in rural Uganda.

The research focuses on the implementation of a storytelling/story-acting (STSA) activity in preschool children who attend a community library in this rural area and how the health and well-being of a child's primary caregiver (including quality of life, depression, and cumulative social-contextual risk) affect that child's readiness to learn. The goal of the project is to explore the various ways that the Kitengesa Community Library is affecting the community it serves, then using those research outcomes to support development of similar rural village libraries elsewhere on the continent. Dean Dent suggests that even conflict-torn northern Uganda could benefit from an increased focus on childhood literacy. "If there were more educational opportunities, people would be empowered to become more engaged in civic movements and social movements," said Dean Dent.

In the STSA activity, according to Dr. Goodman, "children tell stories to the group leader, who writes them down verbatim and then later on, they actually act them out in front of all the children so the children get to see the stories that are acted out. The reason why we've chosen this particular methodology [STSA] is that we feel that the children telling their own stories gets them more acquainted with narrative.  They watch the writing [of the group leader] taking place, and we're hoping that this will help them gain some kind of interest in reading stories and becoming interested in characters in stories." 

"Our goal is to promote the development of a reading culture," said Dean Dent. "Even though reading is something that's been historically associated with the West, you can't separate reading from economic development. What we are trying to do on a micro scale is to develop models that we can then use in other rural community libraries that will serve to promote the development of reading cultures and a love of reading that will translate into later success as these children grow older and go into the world."

For more information, visit

 Children from village of GulemaLIU Professor Psychology Professor Geoff Goodman with the children from the village of Gulema who are participating in the library's reading group.

A resident of the village reads a newspaper. Although this child cannot yet read, he mimics the adult's actions, a gesture that is indicative of his interest in learning how to read. Valeda Dent with the mothers and young children in a village school classroom.


Posted 03/09/2012

  Return to Press Releases