on story time
as part of our literacy season a dadzclub resident expert talks about the importance of storytelling
I love stories. I love reading them. I love writing them. I love hearing them. I love telling them. They are, to my mind at least, the greatest single human achievement.
Through stories it is possible to gain an understanding of objects never seen, places never visited and emotions never actually experienced. Stories can create environments and happenings beyond the realms of possibility. They also make it possible to revisit events at which one was never originally present. Furthermore, a story heard by two different people in two different places at two different times can provide common ground out of which a relationship can spring. Indeed, cultures are defined by the stories they celebrate. It is therefore fair to say that stories wield unfathomable amounts of power. Chief among which, as every parent knows, is their uncanny knack of settling children down at bedtime, which is really rather handy.
Of course, stories are also just plain old, wholesome, honest fun and it is this element I urge you to embrace. Story time, whether at night, after lunch, or even mid-morning should be an event. In particular, a participatory event.
The first step to a successful story time is the establishing of a dialogue between the teller and the audience. Talk about the title of the story and what it means. Discuss the characters, how they look, their strengths and weaknesses.
Remember the importance of performance. Discuss how the characters talk (demonstrate different voices), include their catch-phrases, encourage your child to join-in.
Make sure your child can see the pages as you read them (you're a big boy now so you can probably read text up side down, something your child might notice and admire), point at the words as you go. Invite your child to turn the pages, but every now and then delay the next page and ask, "What do you think happens next?" Ask this even if it is an old favourite. Also, pause just before a catch-phrase so your child can join in.
There are a host of fabulous modern children's books available. I favour those with rhyming, sing-song text patterns because I can predict the text and therefore concentrate on emphasising the characters' dialogue and actions. These same qualities, like nursery rhymes, make stories easier for children to remember. Then there are the old classics, The Three Little Pigs, The Billy Goats Gruff and naughty little Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
However, the story is only the beginning. When your child goes to school they will probably hear the same stories and because they know them, he or she will feel confident to join in. Your child will play games based on favourite stories with other children and so make new friends. But most importantly of all your child will have gone on hundreds of adventures. Your child will have solved a handful of riddles, slain a dozen foes, saved a score of kingdoms and returned home safely every time, all thanks to you, Dad.
Great article, and one of many from Nick.