Dr. V.S. Gayathri
How To Make Story Time Interactive
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” - Emilie Bunchwald
Most of us have grown up listening to stories from our elders- parents, grandparents, elder siblings, and others. We all have known about the importance of reading to your child from an early age.
According to TIME.com, a recent brain scan study indicated that ‘reading at home with children from an early age was strongly correlated with brain activation in areas connected with visual imagery and understanding the meaning of language’.
We already know about the manifold benefits of reading to your child. In the US, library storytime plays a critical role in teaching skills to infants and toddlers. Most storytellers go beyond reading a book and incorporate fun activities that encourage children to play and move. Libraries use storytime to nurture early reading skills for parents so they can practice at home and help boost their children’s love of books.
Kids love to listen to stories, especially babies and toddlers. And, if this can be instilled as a habit from listening to gradually reading on their own, then it will be beneficial for them in many aspects.
All of us have our own ways to tell stories to our kids like at bedtime or while explaining concepts. Storytime can be made more effective and interesting so that it becomes more engaging for the kids and they will look forward to it. Moreover, it has to be more interactive because in that way the kids will learn more than just listening to the story, Their cognitive and analytical skills will be improved, while language development will be at a faster pace.
Here are some simple ways in which storytime can be made more interactive.
1. Familiarize them with the book- Start right from the title of the book, author of the book, and the book cover. Break down the title for them to explain in simpler words which will also act like a pretext to the story they are about to listen to. Also briefly explain the role of the author and/or the illustrator, explaining who is narrator. Show them the cover and explain the images so that they can relate to it when you start reading.
2. Be as expressive as possible- Use gestures and voice variation while reading to your child. You may sound or look silly at times, but don’t worry. The more innovative you get, the more interesting it becomes. You might also need to use some simple props at times to re-emphasize an idea. However, do not overdo it because it might take their attention away from the actual book.
3. Ask questions- As you read, involve them in the story by asking questions. Like ‘What is this?’, ‘What is the man doing?’, ‘What colour is the flower?’ etc. Then, evaluate the answer and Expand the answer to add more details. Then, repeat the specific words or expressions to re-iterate the point once again. This helps in better understanding and attention span. Give them time to think and reflect on what they have heard.
4. Use your fingers- While reading use your fingers to point at words and track the sentences. This will help them to understand better and follow as well. When they visually look at the words you are pointing to, they gradually pick up the spellings too. Also, decide on the pace at which you read. Spend time with your child to understand the right pace for them.
5. Print key vocabulary words on strips of paper- You can also print or make cutouts of the main words to highlight them in bold. This helps in language development and faster learning.
6. Make personal connections- Try to connect the book with their prior knowledge or some personal experiences. This will help them to relate better and internalize the concepts.
7. Summarize the story- After reading the book, summarize the plot for them. For elder kids, help them to summarize the story. Take time and give them time to go over important themes from the story.
8. Extend storytime- Follow–up activities such as using story maps, word webs, sequencing activities, role play, story retelling with props, or flannel board characters, etc. always help in better understanding and interpretation. This way you can extend the storytime to include meaningful activities.
Try out the PEER SEQUENCE
Use Wh-questions like What, Where, When, Who for younger kids and Why, How for older kids.
Evaluate the answer when they respond to your question.
Expand with one or two words to create a full sentence for younger kids while elaborate with some points for elder ones.
Repeat the concept with new words or expressions to help them learn something extra.
You can start with the PEER Sequence on a few pages of the book for very young kids, and then move on to the full book for elder kids depending on how they respond to it.
Storytime is always a fun and learning time for the kids. So, make the most of this time by bonding with your child and facilitating their learning process. Make storytime innovative, interesting, and interactive!