The current research was conducted within the broader context of the NRF Project Southern African Text and Discourse Structures and their Relevance for Education. It investigates the storytelling of eighty 10-12 year old isiZulu L1-speaking South African children. Half of the participants live in rural Nongoma. KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), while the other half reside in urban Cato Manor, a low income neighbourhood of Durban (KZN). Each child told two elicited stories, one of the wordless, ‘culturally unfamiliar’ picture book Frog where are you? (Mayer, 1969); one of the wordless, ‘culturally familiar’ picture book Abongi’s Journey (Saadien-Raad and Rosser, 2003).
Results reveal that both groups of children employed elements of a Southern African Narrative Text Structure (SANTS) as proposed by Tappe and Hara (2013) in both stories. Moreover, and as we had expected, these elements were more prevalent in the stories of the children from rural KZN. However, our results also indicate that the urban-rural divide had a smaller impact on the children’s storytelling than we had anticipated and that SANTS elements frequently occurred in the stories of the urban children. Moreover, we found that cultural familiarity of the stimulus material enhanced storytelling for both groups. These findings highlight the importance of culturally adequate teaching and learning materials and they indicate that ‘canonical’ assessment instruments may not be adequate to measure narrative skills in children with a Southern African L1.