As a parent, we know how many things you've got to think about and we don't want reading or story time to ever feel like a chore. If you're stuck for ideas or just haven't got the time to think of how to bring stories to life, then we've created this handy guide which includes ten top tips from our leading childcare experts on how to make storytime with your child even more magical.
Not only this, but the ideas within this guide are all linked to helping your child develop key literacy, numeracy and communication skills. It has been proven that children who are read to regularly at an early age are more likely to excel later in life.
Create an ideal reading space
If you can create a cosy space for story time, this will help you to remember to make time for reading each day. The space need not be complex, just ensure the corner or area is comfortable for you and your child so that they can easily see the pictures and handle the book. Allow your child to choose a favourite or share a story that you love.
Don't be afraid to be silly!
Children can pick up on body language and emotions from a young age so if you're bored or sound frustrated, the story will lose its impact. Storytelling is all about using your enthusiasm and energy to make it magical. But most of all, make reading fun! Try some of these techniques:
The earlier the better
There are multiple benefits to reading to your children even when they're very young babies. They may not understand the words, but hearing your voice is not only soothing but will help your baby develop listening skills and stimulates an interest in sounds.
Choose touchy-feely books where possible too, as they are ideal for helping your baby develop fine motor skills.
Rhyming helps children understand how language works and how there are different sounds within words. Some great rhyming stories include 'The Gruffalo' or 'Each Peach Pear Plum' - they help give an understanding of pattern, rhythm and understanding that words have common sounds.
Ask your child open ended questions such as "What do you think would happen if the three bears had gone to Goldilocks' house?". Avoid obvious questions such as "What colour is the bus?". Open ended questions not only supports a child's critical thinking, but helps boost self-esteem and social skills. They encourage children to provide answers that they've thought-out and to further engage in the story.
Props can be as simple as a child holding their teddy bear when reading a story such as "That's not my bear". Or try creating puppets simply made from lolly stick/paper plates/wooden spoons - the possibilities are endless!
What's going to happen next?
Add an element of surprise by promoting your child to guess what might happen next in the story. Engaging them in higher level thinking and problem solving, by asking them what's already happened in the story or what happens next, are important skills for developing mathematical thinking.
Tell your own story
You can use the front cover or individual pages to ask your child how they think the story might develop. This encourages them to use their imagination and sparks curiosity and excitement about what is coming next. This helps a child to use context clues from pictures.
The language of books
Familiarise your child with the book itself so they can understand how books are formed. Point out which part is the front cover, who the author is, illustrator and explain the purpose of the blurb. It may come naturally to most parents, but following the words with your finger helps a child to understand that words are read left to right.
Understanding values and morals
Most books for children carry a moral theme, or characters that are experiencing certain emotions that children can relate to. Reflecting on these themes and asking children about how they would feel if they were in the characters shoes can help them develop and understanding of language for emotion. E.g. try asking "How would you feel if someone stole your porridge?" or "Why do you think the monkey is feeling sad?"