It may sound easy as a concept, but there’s a difference between reading the words on a page, and engaging your child in a story read aloud. Below you’ll find my tips and tricks for a fun and interactive story time that both you and your child will enjoy at any time of the day!
Firstly, it’s always a good idea to peruse or even read your story time book ahead of time. This allows you to get used to the rhythm and rhyme of the book (if there is one) as well as helps you prepare for ultimate delivery of any story twists or surprises. This also allows you to prepare for any tough discussions you may want to have with your children as the book progresses (does the book use words your family normally does not approve of, does it introduce concepts your children may not be familiar with? all good things to know ahead of time!)
Next, read the room, and know your listener. If your kid has a short attention span, either normally or usually, perhaps stories with excessive words will not be well received. Sometimes, I’ll pick and choose sentences that give the gist of what the story is trying to convey, rather than read word for word if I think that the story needs to end quicker than anticipated. For very young readers, I may not even read the words on the page, and opt instead for a more interactive experience, asking them to point out pictures, or help me turn the page.
Alternately, if I am reading to a beginner reader, I’ll point out the words that I read as I go. I may pause while pointing out words, to see if my reader can recognize them (sight words like “the,” “and,” “or,” and others are seen so frequently in books, and beginner readers can build up their reading arsenal early on with this trick)
Try to read your story time go to’s in the same cadence. This allows younger kids to become confident in their ability to memorize and “read” the books themselves (which is a developmental goal!) and their participation makes it more fun and exciting!
Ask questions after new books. Ask what they liked and didn’t like. Ask them specific questions about the story, help them remember what was read, and really think about what happened. Even if it’s a “just for fun” story, working on their language and retelling skills helps them immensely in their communication throughout the other parts of their day.
Use funny voices. Get louder and quieter if applicable, especially if it’s not. Be as animated as you can, and care less about getting the wording exactly right, and more about making the story enjoyable. If your child enjoys the story, you’ll have more opportunities to perfect your reading. If they’re bored, they won’t want to read it again.
Above all, enjoy yourself while you read a loud, and let your energy rub off on who you’re reading to! Happy Reading!