Storytime has always been one of my favorites, both as a mom and as a teacher. I have always been passionate about seeing the children’s faces as they prepare and calm down to listen to the story. I wonder what children are thinking. Are they wondering what the story is about? Are they curious to learn about the characters? I have always thought that there are many hidden emotions in storytime. While one might think that more active activities might be children’s favorites, story time has its own special charm.
Once I had a large group of children, larger than I was used to. A group of children full of desire to learn, be active, and have lots of fun. Interestingly, I noticed that while they enjoyed active and loud activities, they really loved storytime. Children in this group enjoyed storytime so much that the more they read, the more their interest grew, and the more they wanted to hear.
Over time, storytime (and storytelling) went from just being a part of the day when I read to children to being one of my favorite methods of:
- Getting children’s attention
- Behavior management
- Handling transitions
The secret is to always make reading an active experience for children. To engage children in storytime, I would:
- Change the names of the characters to the names of the children.
- Read books or tell stories that are related to their culture or language.
- Choose books that relate to a situation a child is going through that the family has shared with me, such as a divorce or the loss of a pet or family member.
- Use books to reinforce transitions that were being taught, such as handwashing or using the bathroom.
- Identify and label emotions shown in books and associate them with times of the day where similar emotions are experienced.
- Tell my own stories. I would start by making short stories that I would continue and finish with the children’s comments and ideas.
With these approaches, I noticed how storytime and storytelling impacted areas of development and learning, such as:
- Social studies through cultural diversity in books
- Sequencing and order of events
The more you make storytime essential to your classroom routine, the more you will get to know your children’s interests and preferences for stories and books. Continuous reading promotes the acquisition and use of new vocabulary and it provides an awesome opportunity to engage with children in taking imaginary trips, going on adventures, and learning.