Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved stories. I was known as a ‘book worm’ and, probably because it was in the years before tech, I still prefer the smell of a freshly opened new book to reading anything on a screen! Books were a portal into new and different worlds which could be explored, imagined, played and expanded upon. Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series prompted hundreds of mysteries to be solved, Arthur Ransom’s Swallows and Amazon’s series had me desperate to try sailing!
Jackanory was my favourite children's TV program and from then my life ambition was to read a story on the BBC! I’ve never achieved it, but one of my jobs allows me to share stories with lots of children every week
So here is my quick five point guide to reading stories out loud….
1. Don’t be afraid of your own voice
The only person listening is you and your child. It doesn’t matter if your accents aren’t quite right (or even close!) and it doesn’t matter if you end up laughing about it! Your child will learn confidence to express themselves creatively by your experimenting, they will discover that we don’t have to take ourselves (or text) too seriously. Sometimes we might need to SHOUT! for one part of the story. And other times a whisper is all you need! Use your face as well as your voice; funny faces make everyone laugh and your child can join in too.
2. Tell your own stories
Storytelling is an age old tradition, but it didn’t start with text! It came from families and friends sharing their lives and from retelling the tall tales from their own history and culture. So share your family stories - I have a grandmother who used to ride to school on a pig! - My children still love hearing about her.
3. Take your time
If you’ve got a bit longer have a look at the story early and collect some props from around the house - you could do this with your child. Then encourage your child to be part of the story telling too - they could be their favourite character or join in for repeated phrases or rhymes. Share the book together; everyone wants to see the pictures so snuggle up and make it easy for everyone to reach and point out their favourite bits.
4. Read in different places and at different times
Your child might be really interested in lorries so sit outside and share a book looking at all the real life lorries. Perhaps everyone loves mini-beasts so popping into the garden along with a trowel to dig up some worms would be fun! If you’re off on a bear hunt maybe consider doing a travelling story all around the house! Remember stories don’t have to be told in only one place or by only one person.
5. Enjoy it yourself
Revisit your own childhood favourites, find some new classics and get excited about discovering new authors.
Hopefully these ideas have given you a few things to think about when sharing stories. Most of all share your enthusiasm and love of storytelling!