Reading and Writing

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 403–429 | Cite as

Inference generation, story comprehension, and language skills in the preschool years

  • Virginia TompkinsEmail author
  • Ying Guo
  • Laura M. Justice


Several researchers have shown that children’s ability to make inferences is related to their reading comprehension. The majority of research on this topic has been conducted on older children. However, given the recent focus on the importance of narrative comprehension in prereaders, the current study examined the relationship between inference making and story comprehension in 4- to 5-year-olds. We examined children’s online inferences while narrating a wordless book as well as children’s story comprehension of a different storybook. We found that children’s total number of inferences was significantly related to their story comprehension. Three types of inferences were significantly related to story comprehension—characters goals, actions that achieved those goals, and character states. In a hierarchical regression controlling for children’s age and expressive vocabulary, a composite of these three inference types significantly predicted children’s story comprehension.


Inference Comprehension Language Literacy Narrative 



We would like to thank the families and child care centers who participated in this study. We would also like to thank Sarah Helton for her assistance in the development of the coding scheme and coding of the narratives.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Virginia Tompkins
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ying Guo
    • 2
  • Laura M. Justice
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe Ohio State University at LimaLimaUSA
  2. 2.School of EducationUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  3. 3.School of Teaching and LearningThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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