Children and stories go together like hot chocolate and marshmallows.
I read stories to a group of 3 to 6 year olds each month in my local library, and I can safely say I get as much pleasure out of it as they do – few things are more rewarding than seeing a child’s face light up when he or she is totally engrossed in a story. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated or have a lot going on in it to keep a child happy – in fact, sometimes the simplest stories work best. Here are a few guidelines for successful story reading with your child.
Short and sweet – sometimes 5 minutes can be enough. Stop if your child is showing signs of losing interest.
Choose your time – don’t drag them away from something they’re already enjoying: the book will wait. Never make it a chore.
Let them choose – if you’ve got a story ready and they ask for another, go with their choice.
Make it interesting – use different voices, change your facial expressions, make a clown of yourself, anything that keeps their attention.
Get them involved – ask questions, ask them to show you things in the picture, let them comment and turn the pages. Ask them what they think is going to happen next. Talk about the story afterwards, ask them what their favourite bit was.
Show a good example – let your child see you reading a book, or the newspaper, or whatever, during the day. If you haven’t already done it, become members of your local library and bring them regularly.
Involve more family members – encourage older brothers or sisters, cousins, grandparents etc. to read to the child. Make it something everyone does, make it a natural part of the child’s life.
Keep books around – leave books out where your child can get them. Give them books as part of their birthday or Christmas presents.
Golden rule – keep it fun. First and foremost, stories are there to be enjoyed.
…And here are some lovely picture books for your child:
The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson
The Gruffalo’s Child – Julia Donaldson
The Smartest Giant in Town – Julia Donaldson
A Squash and a Squeeze – Julia Donaldson
Peepo! – Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Owl Babies – Martin Waddell
Where’s my Teddy? – Jez Alborough
Mrs Honey’s Hat – Pam Adams
This is the Bear – Sarah Hayes (series)
Bear Hunt – Michael Rosen
Green Eggs and Ham – Dr Seuss
Whatever Next! – Jill Murphy
The Elephant and the Bad Baby – Elfrida Vipont
Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy – Lynley Dodd
Farmer Duck – Martin Waddell
The Pig in the Pond – Martin Waddell
Especially perfect for bedtime:
Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown
Peace at Last – Jill Murphy
Guess How Much I Love You – Sam McBratney
Sleep Tight, Little Bear – Martin Waddell
If You Give a Pig a Pancake – Laura Numeroff
There’s a Bird on your Head – Mo Willems
Roisin Meaney worked as a primary school teacher for seventeen years before giving it up to write full time. To date she is the author of ten adult novels and two children’s books. On the first Saturday of every month she tells stories to small children in Limerick’s main library at The Granary, passing on her love of books and reading to the next generation.