Do you envy those people who are natural storytellers? Perhaps you want to make reading stories more fun, but lack the confidence or know-how? Below are 10 simple things you can do to help make reading stories more fun.
1. Read the book several times to yourself before you read it with the child so that the content, the layout and the pictures are all familiar to you.
2. Talk about the front cover with the child before you open the book. Ask the child what he thinks the story is about.
3. Use a variety of different voices for different characters. Not every parent is able to speak in a variety of accents. There are some very lucky children whose parents can. But you don't have to be a trained actor, or even an amateur to be able to make your voice interesting. You can whisper, you can shout, you can sound angry, or sad, silly, or intelligent. You can make your voice squeaky, deep or scary. At first you might feel silly, but I'm sure with practice you will learn to enjoy it. I know I do.
4. Adapt your voice to help create different atmospheres. Is the book scary or funny, serious or lighthearted, sad or happy? Using an appropriate tone of voice is far better than speaking in a boring monotone.
5. Encourage your child to join in. Remember how much you as a child enjoyed those repeated phrases: such as I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down. Create a special signal to your child to let him know when it's time to join in: raise your hands, tilt your head, half close the book. The more dramatic, the better. Children also enjoy putting in missing words. This is particularly useful and educational if the story has a pattern of rhyme to it. For example: I'll. . . and I'll. . . , blow your house down.
6. Add sound effects or encourage your child to do so. Animal sounds, bird song, bells ringing, people snoring etc all add to the fun. Many authors add these to the text, but if they don't there's no reason you couldn't improvise.
7. Add actions too, silly walks, waving, driving a car. All these add greatly to the fun factor.
8. Pull funny faces to show feelings such as fear, joy, surprise etc. The more exaggerated these are the better.
9. Talk about the pictures on the pages and relate the text to the pictures. You might even encourage your child to guess the next word or words, using the picture to guide him.
10. Learn from the experts. Many well-known children's authors read their books at festivals or book shops. Storytellers also offer sessions in local libraries as well as at organized storytelling events. Look out for family literacy training at your child's school or ask to work as a volunteer there when literacy sessions are taking place. Last, but not least, listen to recorded books for inspiration.
Follow the ten tips, and make reading a pleasure, not a chore. You'll be glad you did, and so will your child.
Dorothy Massey is the author of Better English published by Studymates and the Ghost Twin Tales: Mini Mysteries and Kooky Spookies, Pinestein Press publication. An expert in literacy for adults and children, she writes quality educational materials and children's fiction. To find out more about Dorothy and writing for children in the UK, visit Dorothy's blog: http://www.kidsbooksuk.blogspot.com