What is it about?

Story world absorption occurs when a readers' attention is captured by immersion in a narrative. This study examined story world absorption in 66 American children ages 9-11, asking how they experienced that state, and the kinds of texts and text features that elicit absorption. Motivated by the hypothesis that, despite differences in their reading frequency, most children can become absorbed by stories, we asked a diverse sample of readers to report on their reading experience. We found that frequent and occasional readers across age groups were similar in the extent to which they endorsed the four dimensions of the absorption experience: attention, transportation, emotional engagement, and mental imagery.Overall, the findings underline the possibility that both frequent and occasional child readers can become absorbed in a fictional world.

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Why is it important?

Current educational frameworks emphasize the importance of character traits, like self-efficacy and self-determination, for children’s reading success. However, when children are absorbed, or immersed, in a story, they appear to be motivated less by specific character traits, like grit or perseverance, and more by their engagement in the narrative itself. By understanding how children experience absorption and identifying the texts and text features that promote this level of reading motivation and engagement, we can learn more about how to more effectively cultivate and sustain children's interest in reading.

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This page is a summary of: Children’s absorption in fiction: Self-reports by avid and occasional readers., Psychology of Aesthetics Creativity and the Arts, July 2023, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/aca0000611.
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