To celebrate National Storytelling Week at Portland House we started on Monday with a visit from a professional story teller. Alec who is a very experienced, well-travelled and truly gifted story teller spent the day with the preschool and toddler children sharing stories in a variety of different ways. He intrigued and enraptured the children with stories from some of his favourite books that he had brought to read to us and also told us some fascinating ones from his own imagination and memory recall. The children took great delight in joining in with the story session and proved to be quite expert at doing sounds and actions to the stories, rhymes and poems. A particular favourite was an interactive story book about a sleeping giant with flaps and peepholes called ‘Shhh! By Sally Grindley and Peter Utton. The children giggled and repeatedly asked Alec to ‘read it again, again’. I think we will be planning a visit with the preschool children to Lindley book shop to purchase a copy of our own to have at our story times in nursery. Perhaps you too may enjoy a trip to your local library with your child to see what new stories you can find and share together. We would be delighted if any parents/carers or family members would like to come along to nursery to share a group story time with the children. If this would be of interest please speak to your child’s key person. Key points Reading and storytelling with your child promotes brain development and imagination, teaches your child about language and emotions, and strengthens your relationship. You don’t always need to read books. Try looking at picture books, singing rhymes and songs, or telling stories from your culture. Babies and young children often enjoy books, songs and stories with good rhyme, rhythm and repetition. Anytime is a good time for a book or story! Try to share at least one book or story each day. Storytelling and songs Reading isn’t the only way to help with your child’s language and literacy development. Telling stories, singing songs and saying rhymes together are also great activities for early literacy skills – and your child will probably have a lot of fun at the same time. Sometimes your child might enjoy these activities more than reading. You might like to make up your own stories or share family stories. Your child will learn words and develop language skills from the songs, stories and conversations you share together. Reading to your child in other languages You can read, sing and tell stories with your child in whatever language you feel most comfortable speaking. Using a language you’re comfortable with helps you to communicate more easily and helps to make reading, singing and storytelling more fun for you both. Your child will still learn that words are made up of different letters, syllables and sounds, and that words usually link to the pictures on the page. Don’t worry if English isn’t your child’s first language. Being bilingual actually helps your child learn English when they starts nursery, or school. Dual-language books are a great resource, and many children’s books are published in two languages. If you speak a language other than English at home, reading dual-language books with your child might also help you become more familiar with English. Another option is to read a book aloud in English or listen to an audio book in English and then talk about the story with your child in whatever language feels most comfortable. When to read, sing and tell stories with your child Bedtime, bath time, potty time, on the train, on the bus, in the car, in the park, in the pram, in the cot... any time is a good time for a story! You can make books part of your daily routine – take them with you to share and enjoy everywhere. Knowing when to stop can be just as important as finding the time to share a story in the first place. Pay attention to your child’s reaction to the story, and stop if he isn’t enjoying it this time. You can always try a book, song or story at another time. If you don’t have a book or can’t make up a story on the spot, don’t worry. There are many other ways you and your child can share letters, words and pictures. For example, you can look at: Packages at home or in the supermarket, especially food packaging Clothing – what does it say on the t-shirt? What colour is it? Letters and notes – what do they say? Who sent them? Signs or posters in shops, or on buses and trains – point out signs that have the same letters as your child’s name Menus – it can be fun for older children to look at menus and work out what they want to eat. Tips for sharing books with babies and young children Make a routine and try to share at least one book every day. A reading chair where you’re both comfortable can become part of your reading routine. Turn off the TV or radio, and find a quiet place to read so your child can hear your voice. Hold your child close or on your knee while you read, so she can see your face and the book. Try out funny noises and sounds – play and have fun! Involve your child by encouraging talk about the pictures, and by repeating familiar words and phrases. Let your child choose the books when he’s old enough to start asking – and be prepared to read favourite books over and over again! If you have older children, they can share books with your younger children, or you can all read together. Taking turns, asking questions and listening to the answers are all important skills that will help your child when they start learning to read.