The Magic of Storytelling by Jane Magnani
As a parent of young children, you’re already well aware of the endless energy, curiosity, and boundless imagination that your little one has. The early years are a crucial time for their development, and one of the most delightful and impactful ways to foster that development is through the power of storytelling.
So, what do we mean by storytelling?
Storytelling may seem like a lost art in a world filled with screens and devices. But in reality, it’s a timeless and invaluable tradition. Storytelling is not just a bedtime ritual and isn’t limited to the words within the pages of a book; it’s a dynamic and engaging process that can take many forms.
It’s the journey of sharing narratives, ideas, and experiences, captivating your little one’s imagination and creativity and influencing their development.
So, let’s jump into the world of storytelling and find out how we can harness its benefits and advantages to nurture our little one’s growth and development in an engaging and fun way!
What can we do to create a storytelling culture in our little ones?
Make It Engaging
- Use an expressive voice when you read to your little one. This will help to keep their attention and make the story more engaging.
- Use different voices for different characters in the book to add excitement and help with understanding.
- Take breaks to comment on the pictures or text and point out interesting things to them. This will help to keep them engaged and encourage them to interact with the story.
- Use a singsong voice! Sing along to the words and clap along, changing the speed of the claps from fast to slow.
- Clap your hands or pat your legs to count the syllables as you sing a simple rhyme or read a sentence from a book.
- Create baskets with different instruments, such as shakers, bells, and xylophones or household items, such as wooden spoons, metal spoons, pots and pans, to enhance the storytelling experience.
- Create your own shakers, using plastic bottles and adding rice, beans or pasta.
Create a Reading Corner
- Set up a special reading spot in your home and decorate it together.
- Set up books in boxes or baskets to be available for little hands.
- Make it cosy with pillows and blankets or fairy lights.
- Include props, some toys, small people, and stuffed animals that can represent characters in stories, such as a dog for “Where’s Spot” or a caterpillar or butterfly for “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”.
- Add a range of reading materials, books, magazines, age-appropriate newspapers and fact books.
Follow Their Lead
- Let your little one’s interests guide you when choosing books to read.
- Let them choose their book even if you read it yesterday! Feel free to read them repeatedly. This will help to reinforce their love of reading and encourage a lifelong habit of reading for pleasure.
- Provide them with opportunities to handle books and magazines independently; let them choose the stories they would like in the box.
- Add books to their play; for example, if they like playing with the dinosaurs, get some dinosaur books they can see and interact with when playing.
Make a Daily Activity
- Sharing stories creates a special bond between you and your child. A moment of closeness and security that fosters a strong emotional connection.
- When reading together becomes a regular part of your family routine, your little one will learn that it is something to be enjoyed. That attitude will instil a love of reading that will carry them through school and adulthood.
- Add sensory elements to the storytelling, like textures in touch-and-feel books.
- Collect materials of different textures for self-expression, such as pom poms, ribbons, scarves, hula hoops, etc.
- Add natural materials to your storytelling; for example, if storytelling “We are going on a Bear Hunt” collect mud, grass, and sticks to create a sensory experience that immerses your child in the story.
- Encourage them to feel the materials, the squishiness, the softness, and the different textures.
- Creating a Story Sack will help your little one bring their favourite stories to life!
- Choose a story with your little one.
- Collect materials and props that relate to the story or theme.
- These can include figurines, toy animals, dolls, miniature furniture, blocks, natural materials like pebbles and twigs, stuffed animals and any other items that can represent elements from the story.
- Select a beloved children’s story or theme with your little one.
- Gather materials and props related to the narrative, from figurines small toys to miniature furniture and natural resources like pebbles, sand, twigs, fabric materials, water, etc.
- Find a suitable base (tray or shallow box) with plenty of space.
- Arrange these items to bring the story’s setting to life; for instance, you might create a miniature house and add wooden blocks as bricks, straw and twigs for “The Three Little Pigs.”
- Encourage them to expand and change the small world over time, introducing new characters and props for fresh adventures.
- Follow their lead and allow them to be in charge of retelling the story however they want.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
- Engage your child by asking open-ended questions such as why, how, where, what, etc., to encourage thinking to interact with the story., e.g. “What do you think the little bear will do next? Why do you think he’s feeling sad?”
- Relate the story to their daily experiences or emotions, making it relevant to them. Why do you think the child is feeling sad?” “Can you think of a time when you were sad?” “What do you think the bear should do to feel better?
- Give them plenty of time to respond and join in.
- Comment on things happening, the pictures, characters, gestures, etc.
- Create your own stories, including your child’s experiences and interests, whether about their adventure at the park or a tale about their favourite toy.
With storytelling, you’re not just creating moments of joy and wonder; you’re boosting your child’s development in an engaging and fun way.
Plus, the time you spend together telling stories can create lasting memories and form a foundation for a lifelong love of learning!
So, embrace the power of storytelling and let your child’s imagination soar!
Credit: Babbu – The Magic of Storytelling by Jane Magnani