The art of storytelling

Published on 30-01-2012 07:41PM

Once upon a time………….

Story telling tips

Storytelling is the oldest art form in the world, but in the modern world it can be done in more ways than ever before. Sharing a story can be a powerful and meaningful experience, as well as a fun one. As well as encouraging reading, widening vocabulary and igniting a child’s imagination, it’s also an incredibly simple and effective way of strengthening relationships within families.

Reading a book to your child is one of the greatest gifts you can give. It not only provides you with quality one-on-one time, but studies have shown that children who have been actively exposed to language exhibit social and educational advantages over their peers. Reading is a great way to give your child exposure to language.

During the toddler years (ages 1-3), reading also provides parents with a wonderful way to help their child learn by increasing vocabulary, identifying shapes and recognizing colours. But above all else, reading provides your child with what they need most – a strong connection and emotional bond with you.

Try these reading tips for unique and fun ways to liven-up your reading time together.

Reading Time Rituals:

  • Prepare your reading space. At bed time grab some big, fluffy pillows and snuggle down into the sheets. Cuddle with your child as you get ready for your reading adventure. If preparing a daytime read, switch off all other distractions like TV, radio or computers.
  • Set aside a special reading time. Schedule time at least every night for reading together. If possible, read to them before naptime and in the morning too.  Try and stick to regular times and places as your child will be better able to concentrate in a familiar environment.
  • Toddlers can be quite particular about what they want. So let your children choose the book. Even if they want to read the same book over and over again. Repetition will help increase vocabulary and reading comprehension. Keep a collection of children’s books and magazines at home for them to choose from.
  • Let your child turn the pages. This important job will help them to feel a part of the story and help them to follow the story closely so that they don’t miss their part.
  • Read with emotion and don’t be afraid to act or improvise. You may feel self conscious at first but your child is a willing and enthusiastic audience and will appreciate the extra dimension this adds to your story. Use different voices for each character and copy their emotions by changing your voice and apeing their gestures.
  • Emphasise rhymes and rhythms in the story. This will provide your toddler with a great opportunity to say the rhymes along with you.
  • Try to read slowly; pronouncing each word so your child can understand and follow it.
  • If you are not over confident about your reading skills try reading picture books instead. They offer a great way for you to talk with your child. Talk about the different colours and objects in the picture. Ask questions like, “What do you think happens next?” Try looking through the book before story time to familiarise yourself with the story and plan how you can best read it.
  • You don’t have to read a story from a book. Try making up a story yourself. Pick a few props from your child’s bedroom and weave a story around them using your imaginations. Alternatively try making up a story about family members or pets.
  • Sing to your child and encourage your toddler to sing along with you as you rhyme verses. Take it up a notch and clap too. The rhythm will help them remember words and phrases more easily.
  • Once you’ve read a favourite book enough times, they’ll be able to memorize certain parts of the story. Encourage them to learn by reading part of the sentence and then asking them to finish the end (or a word). Toddlers love feeling smart and will delight in the fact that they can remember it for themselves!
  • Substitute your child’s name for the character in the book. Toddlers love hearing their name and get giggles when they suddenly realize that “they are the star in the book.”
  • Read books that interest your child. For example, if your child is a big Elmo fan, go all-out on reading Elmo or Sesame Street books. Take your child to your local library where they have books on every subject or can order them for you if you have special requests.
  • Also, take your child to story time at your local library. Most libraries have at least one session a week where your child can experience the added enjoyment of group listening and participation.