Sharing Stories

People regularly ask what stories they should be sharing for their child of a certain age or they worry that they don’t have many different ones at home to share.  

If you have some books already at home then look at picking one and focusing on it for the week.

It is very important to share stories over and over again and using one as a focus will help your child to learn the key skill of how to become a storyteller where they can retell the story over and over again (see retelling stories).

Reading a book over and over – repetitive reading develops children’s vocabulary.  It helps them develop their understanding of the story and all the different parts so they can delve deeper into it.  Reading aloud models to children how the words sound and connect to each other.

“I believe we should spend less time worrying about the quantity of books children read and more time introducing them to quality books that will turn them on to the joy of reading and turn them into lifelong readers.”– James Patterson

  • Books have a very special purpose of being able to take us to different places, imagine new worlds, experience new things and spark a natural curiosity.
  • Books help us dive into a place of peace and relaxation, where we can learn an array of different emotions and we are able to develop our empathy skills.  Books help us to realise there are people like us and that we are a community together.
  • Books help us to improve on our vocabulary.  Books are rich with language and they make us want to question and help us develop new knowledge and experience.  

By teaching a child to read we are opening them to this world, by sharing stories we are helping them to explore it.

‘We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy.  To read them stories we are already tired of.  To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves.  Use reading-aloud time as bonding time…when the distractions of the world are put aside.’ – Neil Gaiman

Newspaper article: Why our Future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

What is your favourite story?

Challenge: Can you recreate the book cover? Here are some examples:

Abigail cover

The tiger who came to tea The tiger who came to tea

Fox and the star

Things to do at home:

  • Get your child to join in with repeated refrains in the book for example in Jack and the Beanstalk “Fi Fi Fo Fum”
  • When you have read the story a number of times then add in pauses at certain key points and get them to add in the missing words.  Build this up until your child can retell the majority of the story themselves from memory.

Video: The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

  • Practice doing different voices of different characters and talk about what you can see happening in the different illustrations.
  • Have a go at changing the endings of the story or predicting what might happen next.
  • Add actions to your story for different characters or things that might be happening in the story.
  • Link onto different stories with similar themes or the same story told slightly differently by a different author.

You are never too old to be read to.  Research shows that when children become more fluent independent readers that many children are then not read to and are expected to read to themselves.  

Video: Mr Big by Ed Vere

Video: Eliot Jones Midnight Superhero by Anne Cottringer and Alex T. Smith

Video: No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton

“54% of children up to the age of five are read to at home five to seven days at week, with this declining to 34% of six to eight-year-olds, and 17% of nine to 11-year-olds. But 40% of six to 11-year-olds who are not read to told researchers they wish their parents had continued reading aloud to them.”  – Kids Family Reading Report – Scholastic.

  • Do not forget the power of reading aloud and sharing a story that is a slight stretch in terms of what they could read themselves.  
  • Reading helps develop vocabulary as when you come across unknown words you can pause and discuss them.
  • It helps develop listening skills.
  • It is a vital bonding time where they can unwind.  
  • Reading aloud aids children’s comprehension and is a way to discuss important issues such as bullying or other difficult times in their lives.  
  • Reading aloud helps develop a lifelong love of reading.  
  • New books can be shared to introduce new genres.
  • Families can research and find out new things together.

“83% of kids aged 6–17 say being read to is something they either loved or liked a lot.” Scholastic Reading Report

When we read aloud we can model what it is like to be a storyteller.  How to pause at certain points, how to emphasise key words and how your voice changes when you read questions or exclamations.  We can also model what to do when we are stuck with a word (sound it out) and share the toolkit we have as a reader. 

“Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read.” – Marilyn Jager Adams

Where can we read?

Answer – anywhere!

  • Why not look at creating a cosy corner or a reading den?
  • Or think of the places we can read that are extreme! 

Links to some of the read alouds currently available:

  • Oxford Owl Storytelling (log in required)
  • CBeebies Storytime
  • Storytime with Nick Cannon
  • Book Trust – Join in with hometime: “Looking for something fun as a family? Enjoy storytime with our free online books and videos, play games, win prizes, test your knowledge in our book-themed quizzes, or even learn how to draw some of your favourite characters.”
  • Oliver Jeffers Stay at Home Storytime
  • David Walliams audio stories
  • World Book Day Storytime online – Watch a wonderful range of famous authors and stars reading children’s books and short stories for kids of all ages. Storytime Online makes storytelling possible at any time of the day—a brilliant way to keep children entertained and a fun way to help develop their language skills.
  • The Children’s Book Show – a charity that inspires school children with a love of reading through an annual programme of theatre performances and in-school workshops with the very best authors and illustrators from around the world.  The Children’s Bookshow will be producing a Book of the Week Newsletter. They will be recommending some of their favourite books, introducing you to some brilliant authors and illustrators, and suggesting interesting activities to try at home.  You can sign up to the newsletter, or follow them on twitter @ChildrensBkShow. The activities should appeal to all kinds of readers, writers and artists, so everyone can get involved.  Authors reading their books can be seen on their Youtube channel.

"You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child." - Dr Seuss