Young children's emotional attachments to stories

Kristin J. Alexander, Peggy J. Miller, Julie A. Hengst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the interest of developing a more holistic and integrated understanding of young children's experience of stories, this study describes preschoolers' emotional attachments to stories and the cultural beliefs and practices which surround such attachments. Thirty-two European-American, middle-class families, participated in an interview study of their children's story attachments, and five of these mothers also participated in a short-term, longitudinal diary study. Every child experienced at least two emotional attachments to stories. Children were captivated by stories presented in different media, with many attachments occurring around video stories in addition to books. They expressed their attachments by repeatedly requesting the story, expressing strong feelings, and enacting the story in pretend play. Story attachments were social in two fundamental ways: children created relationships with the characters in their favorite stories, and story attachments emerged in the context of relationships with caregivers whose beliefs and practices supported such attachments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)374-398
Number of pages25
JournalSocial Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001


  • Affect
  • Folk theory
  • Narrative
  • Social relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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