“If you want your children to be smart, tell them stories. If you want them to be brilliant, tell them more stories.”- Albert Einstein
Storytelling is the oldest form of teaching. It bonded early human communities, giving children the answers to the biggest questions of creation, life, and the afterlife. Stories define us, shape us, control us, and make us. Not every human culture in the world is literate, but every single culture tells stories. Stories create magic and a sense of wonder at the world. Stories teach us about life, about ourselves and about others. Storytelling is a unique way for children to develop an understanding, respect and appreciation for other cultures, and can promote a positive attitude to people from different lands and religions. Benefits of Storytelling Reading and storytelling with your child promotes brain development and imagination, teaches your child about language and emotions, and strengthens your relationship. When you tell a story, there is a magical moment. The children sit enthralled, mouths open, eyes wide. If that isn’t enough reason, then consider that storytelling:
Sparks your child’s imagination and stimulates curiosity. Storytelling really engages children because they love the acting/dramatic component of it. It teaches them to be creative and encourages dynamic thought.
Inspires purposeful talking, and not just about the story — there are many related activities and games you can play.
Raises children’s enthusiasm for reading texts, encouraging them to find stories, reread them, etc. It helps children learn to value books and stories.
Initiates and motivates the desire to learn to write, because children will want to write stories and tell them.
Enhances the community in the room, builds sense of belonging.
Improves listening and comprehension skills.
Helps your child learn the difference between ‘real’ and ‘make-believe’
The special time you spend reading together builds your relationship with your children. Reading stories with children has benefits for grown-ups too. The shared experience of Storytelling forges emotional bonds with your child and helps to strengthen your relationship.
Helps your child understand change and new or frightening events, and also the strong emotions that can go along with them
Helps your child get to know sounds, words and language, and develop early literacy skills. Storytelling introduces lot of new vocabulary to children. In our homes, we tend to communicate with a limited number of words. Stories have lots of new words to learn. It also helps teach the meanings of the words as children understand better and learn faster from the context of story.
Increases memory capacity. Ask your child to remember the stories you have already read for them, or asking them to remember where you stopped reading the previous day. Always encourage children to share their contribution about the stories. Ask them to narrate a possible climax or encourage them to create a new story with the same characters that they love.
Introduces differences between cultures and various lifestyles. All stories are informative to children, as being new to the world, they know little about the life in the world. Stories help kids to visualise the settings, plot and characters.
In Storytelling, the “how” is important!
If you want children to listen actively, get involved, and understand the story, you have to read out the stories emotionally.
Change the pitch of your voice according to the feelings and emotions depicted in the story. Use effective body language to convey ideas. Perfect storytelling is acting out a story.
Select appropriate stories for your child’s age. Babies and young children often enjoy books, songs and stories with good rhyme, rhythm and repetition.
Just by looking at books with your child, you can be a great storyteller and a good model for using language and books. Your child will learn by watching you hold a book the right way and seeing how you move through the book by gently turning the pages.
If you like, you can talk about the pictures in the book instead of reading the words. Could you and your child make up a story together? Do what you can and as much as you’re comfortable with.
You can start reading aloud to your baby as early as you like – the earlier the better. Your baby will love being held in your arms, listening to your voice, hearing rhyme and rhythm, and looking at pictures.
You don’t always need to read books. Try looking at picture books, singing rhymes and songs, or telling stories from your culture. These are also great activities for early literacy skills – and your child will probably have a lot of fun at the same time. Sometimes your child might enjoy these activities more than reading.
You might also like to make up your own stories or share family stories. Your child will learn words and develop language skills from the songs, stories and conversations you share together.
Even reading for a few minutes at a time is effective – you don’t always have to finish the book. As children grow, they’re usually able to listen for longer.
Reading to your child in other languages
You can read, sing and tell stories with your child in whatever language you feel most comfortable speaking.
Using a language you’re comfortable with helps you to communicate more easily and helps to make reading, singing and storytelling more fun for you both. Your child will still learn that words are made up of different letters, syllables and sounds, and that words usually link to the pictures on the page.
Don’t worry if English isn’t your child’s first language. Being bilingual actually helps your child learn English when they start playgroup, kindergarten or school.
Dual-language books are a great resource, and many children’s books are published in two languages. If you speak a language other than English at home, reading dual-language books with your child might also help you become more familiar with English.
Another option is to read a book aloud in English or listen to an audio book in English and then talk about the story with your child in whatever language feels most comfortable.
When to read, sing and tell stories with your child
Bedtime, bath time, potty time, on the train, on the bus, in the car, in the park, in the pram, in the cot, when you’re in the GP’s waiting room ... any time is a good time for a story! You can make books part of your daily routine – take them with you to share and enjoy everywhere.
Knowing when to stop can be just as important as finding the time to share a story in the first place. Pay attention to your child’s reaction to the story, and stop if he isn’t enjoying it this time. You can always try a book, song or story at another time.
If you don’t have a book or can’t make up a story on the spot, don’t worry. There are many other ways you and your child can share letters, words and pictures. For example, you can look at:
packages at home or in the supermarket, especially food packaging
clothing – what does it say on the t-shirt? What colour is it?
letters and notes – what do they say? Who sent them?
signs or posters in shops, or on buses and trains – point out signs that have the same letters as your child’s name
menus – it can be fun for older children to look at menus and work out what they want to eat.
Anytime is a good time for a book or story! Try to share at least one book or story each day.
Tips for sharing books with babies and young children
Make a routine and try to share at least one book every day. A reading chair where you’re both comfortable can become part of your reading routine.
Turn off the TV or radio, and find a quiet place to read so your child can hear your voice.
Hold your child close or on your knee while you read, so she can see your face and the book.
Try out funny noises and sounds – play and have fun!
Involve your child by encouraging talk about the pictures, and by repeating familiar words and phrases.
Let your toddler choose the books when he’s old enough to start asking – and be prepared to read his favourite books over and over again!
If you have older children, they can share books with your younger children, or you can all read together. Taking turns, asking questions and listening to the answers are all important skills that will help your child when she starts learning to read.
You can also vary the books and printed materials you read. Picture books, ebooks, magazines, instruction manuals, TV guides and letters can all be interesting and engaging for your child. If you’re interested in ebooks, look for ones without distracting games or animations. And it’s important to enjoy ebooks with your child, rather than leaving him alone with a device.
Using your local library
Libraries have a lot to offer. Getting to know your local library can be a part of learning about and loving books.
You can borrow great children’s books for free from your local library. This means you can have lots of books in your home for your child to explore – and it won’t cost you a cent.
Taking your child to the library and letting her choose her own books can be a fun adventure. You can talk about and plan your trip to the library with your child, and get excited together. You could ask your child, for example:
How many books will you choose?
How many books can you find by your favourite author?
Will you borrow books that have animals in them?
Do you have a favourite book you’d like to borrow again?
How many days will it be before we go to the library again?
Libraries also offer story times and activities for young children. Going along to these sessions is a way to help your child get familiar with the library, have fun and enjoy books and stories.
Libraries often have audio books, dual-language books, ebooks and magazines. You can listen to audio books in the car or as a family at home together. Just contact your local library for more information.
More ideas and resources for Storytelling: Enjoy these quick stories online, and follow the links for great related activities to try:
Pete the Cat, I love my white shoes. Pete the Cat goes walking down the street wearing his brand-new white shoes. Along the way, his shoes change from white to red to blue to brown to WET as he steps in piles of strawberries, blueberries, and other big messes! But no matter what colour his shoes are, Pete keeps movin' and groovin' and singing his song...because it's all good. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6Lp9SHN4-M&list=PLCuLa7CUOssGIvdI0INIUJN3oQ4TR2X47 Click on this link for Pete the Cat Ideas...
Have you filled a bucket today? This is a book about feelings and making the right choices. This book is a simple guide for children to share and learn good thoughts and good feelings. The book uses an invisible bucket that everyone has to help illustrate how to fill your bucket and how you would feel with your bucket full. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EuemNAo6XE Click on this link for activities...
The Department of Education has partnered with Channel Nine to deliver reading@home TV to support language and literacy development for children in kindergarten to Year 3. In collaboration with the Reading Centre, the program will feature Reading Coaches and local authors who will read books aloud and facilitate interactive learning experiences. The show will also promote opportunities to get involved in the 2020 Premier’s Reading Challenge. Check it out here:
Premier’s Reading Challenge! The challenge is open to all Queensland students from Prep to Year 9, as well as children (aged up to 5 years) enrolled in an early childhood centre, and aims to improve literacy and encourage children to read for pleasure and learning.The reading period is from 11 May until 28 August. Visit the How to register page to learn more and download the Reader Record Form to track your progress!
A new children’s book launched recently helps young children understand the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Birdie and the Virus’ follows Birdie and her friend, Mr Frog, as they face the challenges of a virus spreading in their community. After Mr Frog becomes sick, the book takes children on a journey of recovery from testing for the virus to treatment, while reinforcing the importance of staying home, hand washing and keeping connected with friends during isolation. If you would like to read more about how Birdie copes with other natural disasters please click on this link: https://www.childrens.health.qld.gov.au/chq/our-services/mental-health-services/qcpimh/natural-disaster-resources/storybooks/