Changing the Way We Read Aloud
When I was young, whenever we sat down for a story at school, at the library and at home there was a strong emphasis on sitting still and being quiet. In the event that we got too fidgety, we were told to sit on our hands. In the event we got too vocal, we were told to cross our arms and hold our voices in. Although story time was supposed to be fun and magical, the strict rules and constant scolding negated the magic. The stories were fun and magical, but the experience sometimes was not.
Thankfully, the way we share stories with children is changing. Now, there is more emphasis on participating in a story. Many people choose stories with a chorus so children are given a chance to join in. More and more early years research is available on the benefits of moving. Combining elements of play with a story helps children to grasp more meaning. Different kinds of movement including play, actions and our own dramatic retelling of a story will transport us into a different world. The story takes on a life of its own and becomes a more magical experience. So the words become less about a representation of a story and more about the understanding of the story. It’s through the actions and the involvement that the story sharing magic happens.
Sharing stories with children helps to develop their listening skills. Finding active ways to engage them will mean that the stories take on extra meaning and give children even more to enjoy. Play and movement involves extra neural processes so while children are listening to the story, the movement is helping them to turn the experience into a memorable and notable experience.
If you’ve got an active group, the best way to keep the story engaging for all is to choose an active story. If children have fidgety hands, give them something to do. If they want to use their voice (or chat), give them a chorus to repeat. The more ways we can find to engage children with books and the more engaging we make the way we share a book, the more we’re helping to give all children a love of books and reading.