There is a ‘special-somethingness’ to story time that I have never been able to shake off since my early childhood years. The memories of my sisters and I huddled together on our parents’ bed –completely enraptured in the gentle drone of mhamha’s voice as we journeyed through various kingdoms, set in different eras, meeting all sorts of amazing characters –are still so vivid today, it feels like it was only yesterday!
I am a mother of three now (8yrs, 3yrs and 1yr) and story time is still one of my favorite things!
I LOOOVE HAVING STORYTIME WITH MY KIDS!
The love for story time (nurtured from a tender age) oozed into my love for books and writing as I grew and now –quite effortlessly and delightfully –this love for stories is now oozing onto my own kids! So, I really couldn’t wait to share the next couple of nuggets that have helped to make story time an unforgettable experience for me and my children.
1) Choose a time when household activity is minimal. This is why bedtime is a great time to have STORYTIME as kids are then usually in winding-down mode. I have also found Saturday mornings to be good for us. Everyone usually lies in, there’s no pressure to get going with day, the children are still in relaxed-mode…a perfect time to wrap into STORY TIME!
2) Choose a convenient place where there’s minimal distraction. The bedroom (either your kids’ or yours) is usually a good choice as there is minimal distraction from TV, radio and other activities going on in the house. For us, the kids’ bedroom is best for story time at night as I can conveniently tuck them into bed after. But the Saturday morning story times tend to happen on mom ‘n’ dad’s bed. Ultimately, a good place is anywhere that is conducive for productive engagement.
3) Have some physical contact going on during STORYTIME. You could have your child nestled in the crooks of your arms, sitting on your laps or if they are many, huddled up closely around you. Any form of some physical contact is a winner! It just makes the reading experience so much more intimate and special.
4) Position the book in such a way as to ensure that your child/children have full view of how the story is progressing and can maybe even turn the pages themselves.
5) Figure out the appropriate time span for your child. The younger they are, the shorter story time should be. If the book cannot be finished in one session, read it in stages –it’s really ok. You want story time to be short enough to still have your kids enraptured at the end but long enough for them to feel satisfied.
6) Always read the title of the book or story before you start-it builds anticipation! Read through the story at a pace that everyone can grasp. Read with expression and creativity –giving different voices to different characters in the book, raising your voice or lowering it where necessary, increasing or decreasing the pace for added effect. Allow room for questions and comments as you go along. You could even pause for a demonstration or two, just to fun it all up. If there are sentences that have an obvious finish line, start the sentence and let your child finish (i.e. And they lived…HAPPILY EVER AFTER!). Take time to look at and discuss the pictures –younger children really love this. At the end of the story, ask a couple of age appropriate questions. Nothing hectic, just more of a recap of the story. You could also ask them to sum up the story for you. My eight year old daughter and three year old son love being given ‘a turn’ during and after story time thus our story times tend to be quite interactive. So, allow your kids to be participants of story time and not just spectators.
If expression doesn’t come easily for you, then put some preparation into story time. Make time to browse through books prior to story time and cultivate ideas on how you can make the experience interactive and enjoyable. Watch YouTube videos or television programs where storytelling is done to glean a few tips. It will pay off…I PROMISE!
Story time is really more than just a time of ‘growing an appetite for books’ in your kids. It is also a great way to bond and have quality time with your kids. The warm fuzzy feel my children and I share during story time is quite like none other activity we do together. It’s just a notch more special!
What is your experience of story time with your kids?