Throughout the month of April, our community will be celebrating international Day of the Child/Day of the Book and National Library Week with exciting activities that celebrate language and reading.
This is a great time to remember the pivotal role stories have played in diverse cultures throughout human history and the continuing benefit stories provide in the lives of children today.
Children of all ages love stories, those that are read from books as well as oral stories.
Storybooks are a wonderful way to share the joys of reading, with the introduction of exciting new words, beautiful illustrations, and the keys to unlocking the mysteries of letters, sounds and words.
Recent research shows that reading interactively with young children raises their IQ and that the earlier the interactive reading takes place, the larger the benefits and small actions during reading can have a big impact on what a child takes away from sharing a book with an adult.
It turns out that when young children are read to, they almost always focus on the illustrations and when they’re not looking at the pictures, they are looking up at the adult reader.
The child’s eyes almost never look at the print on the page and yet that is where children can learn the most about letters, sounds and words. Guiding your child to printed words may help your child’s reading, spelling and comprehension down the road.
While reading, introduce children to:
The meaning of print. Point out specific words in the book, i.e. “Here are the penguin’s words. He says, thank-you.”
The organization of the book. Show how pages are read and page direction, such as “I am going to read this page first and then the next one. I am going to start at the top of this page.”
The letters. Help your child know that letters come in upper and lower case and help them identify letters. For example, “This M in the red block is an uppercase letter — see how it is bigger than the lowercase?”
The words. Help your child recognize written words and the match between spoken and written words. For example, “Lets point to each word as I read it.” You can find fun “pointer fingers” that fit over the index finger for you and your child to use when reading.
Bringing oral stories to life through expressive communication provides a valuable opportunity for children to improve communication skills, increase vocabulary, and spark creativity.
The interaction in storytelling helps emotional development and confidence of children. It shows them that people are interested in what they have to say.
Stories give children a safe way to share emotions and feelings and help them build relationships through interaction with the storyteller.
Listening to and telling stories adds dimensions that reading does not provide, engaging more of the child’s senses, thereby improving comprehension.
The more you tell stories to children, the better storyteller you will become. Here are some tips to help you capture and keep a young child’s interest in your story:
Observe the child as you speak and make changes or clarify vocabulary as needed.
Encourage interaction and participation through questions, repetition of verses or movement activities such as clapping hands.
Change your voice and expressions and use gestures to keep the child interested.
Use words that describe the characters and places so that children can imagine the scene in their mind’s eye.
Re-tell stories — they grow bigger and better each time and children love to anticipate points where they can take over the storytelling.
Children love to hear stories about when you were young, such as learning to ride a bicycle, a favorite teacher, losing a tooth.
Tell about when they were younger, such as the day they were born, their first words, or their first pets.
Tell stories about a family adventure, such as a big storm or a trip to a special place.
Tips for Interactive Storytelling
Begin a familiar story, stopping in the middle of a sentence and have your child finish the sentence. This is a fun way to change the course or direction of the story.
Put some surprise items in a “Story Bag” and take turns building a story based on what you and your child pull out.
Use props and costumes for dramatic storytelling. Use favorite stuffed animals, puppets and toys to tell a story.
Use a “Story Stick” and pass it back and forth taking turns to add to a story.
Use “What If” stories to stimulate the imagination, such as “What if you had wings?” or “What if your dog could talk?”
Ruth Jackson Hall is TTUSD’s Early Learning Coordinator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more things you learn the more places you’ll go.”