Historical Thinking in the Early Years: The Power of Image and Narrative

  • Laura Arias-FerrerEmail author
  • Alejandro Egea-Vivancos
  • Linda S. Levstik
Part of the Educating the Young Child book series (EDYC, volume 16)


This chapter seeks to analyze empirically the abilities of 4- and 5 year-old children regarding historical thinking skills when dealing with symbology and picture-based narratives of the past. It is based on the answers obtained after the development of a specific storytelling strategy where students observe a sequence of images related to a tale written and set in Ancient Egypt, from which they build a narrative to explain their observations. Children’s negotiations regarding their interpretations provide evidence of their capacity for historical thinking when history is presented through stories and narrative-based inquiry. The study was developed in five classrooms with a total of 116 participating students. The chapter concludes that young children are able to deduce information from images, to create complex argumentations, to take some historical perspective and to link the actions in a temporal and causal sequence. Therefore, they are capable of developing some embryonic reasoning, which we consider to be the seed of historical thinking.


Historical thinking Classroom research Student motivation Storytelling Wordless picturebooks 



This research is part of the funded project “La evaluación de las competencias y el desarrollo de capacidades cognitivas sobre Historia en Educación Secundaria Obligatoria” (EDU2015-65621-C3-2-R) that has been supported by Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad de España/European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Programme Jiménez de la Espada of Mobility, Cooperation and Internationalization of Fundación Séneca within the frame of Science, Technology and Innovation Plan of Región de Murcia (Spain).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Arias-Ferrer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alejandro Egea-Vivancos
    • 1
  • Linda S. Levstik
    • 2
  1. 1.University of MurciaMurciaSpain
  2. 2.University of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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