Stories are so important to children’s development, and the following short list barely scratches the surface. Stories help children:
- develop creativity and imagination
- develop their language and thinking skills
- build the knowledge and skills they will eventually need to learn to read
Books are just one of the tools you may use to share stories with your children, and there is so much more to sharing a book than just reading the words!
It is important to help your children actively engage in the book, and this can happen in a variety of ways.
Books may be shared in different ways with children of different ages. You don’t always need to read the words. It is alright to use your own words, in your own language, to tell the story. And, it is always more fun if you use lots of expression and different voices for each character, to bring it alive!
Some children may want to hold the book upside-down or skip a page. Or they may want to repeat a part over and over. Let your children lead the way and enjoy the book, so that reading is a positive experience for them.
Sometimes children will need to move around or will want to play close by, but don’t worry—they are still listening. You may try to keep them involved by having them supply missing words, repeating phrases with you, or by asking them questions such as, “where did it go?” or “what do you think is going to happen next?”
Children love to have stories told in a variety of ways. Sometimes they may enjoy acting out stories using stuffed animals or other props. It is also great for children to act out or retell the story in their own words. Children may want to extend a favourite story by doing a puppet show using the characters, dressing up like one of the characters, or drawing a picture. Some stories may lead to a treasure hunt or specific craft.
On the C.O.W. (Classroom on Wheels) bus, we love to share stories! One of the books we have enjoyed sharing recently is “Wheels on the Bus.” All of the children seem to love this one! It is especially fun because they can sing along and do the actions.
Most people are familiar with the common version, which includes “the doors on the bus go open and shut” and “the wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish.” But our “Wheels on the Bus” book is about the animals on the bus.
If you borrow this book or have it at home, you could let your children make the animal sounds, and choose additional animals to extend the story. For example: “The cows on the bus go moo, moo, moo.” They could also use stuffed animals or draw pictures. This is also a book that they could “read” on their own by using the pictures as clues.
Sharing stories in this way brings them alive to children so that they look forward to story time with you. You and your children will both benefit if you make time every day to share a book.
The C.O.W. is out to pasture for the summer, but check the Centre for Family Literacy website to find out where and when you can join us on the bus next fall! In the meantime, get out some favourite books and have fun!