If you teach young children, it's important for you to have some stellar storytelling skills. Whether it's during circle time or a way to start/end the day, storytelling is a major part of everyday life in early childhood classrooms. Reading and telling stories to children helps them learn how to listen and participate in class activities. Your ability to tell a good story also influences their storytelling skills. This means that your storytelling skills have to capture children's attention, keep them focused on the book you're reading, and keep them focused on what you're doing as the storyteller.
As you probably know, there's a difference between storytelling and good storytelling. The following storytelling tips are based off of a list included in Judy Fujawa's (Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Early Childhood Education and can help you become a better storyteller:
- Point out the pictures in the storybook or make pictures about it. Children enjoy looking at pictures, so making an effort to point out all of the pictures and mention little things you notice about each one goes a long way in capturing children's attention. You could also ask children questions about the pictures and/or ask them to create their own pictures of a scene that happens in the book.
- Read it and re-read it. Children love repetition! Just make sure you don't focus on one book too much, because reading a variety of books ensures that children get to learn new stories or hear their favorite stories again.
- Review it (re-tell it, without actually reading it). Summarizing the story for children helps them learn basic reading comprehension skills and teaches them how to summarize stories, which is a skill that will help them in writing future book reports.
- Dramatize it (act it out). Some children's books come with puppets, which you can use to act out the story as you read it. Other options would be to create movements (clapping, wiggling, etc.) that go along with the story or select a few children to act out the story in front of the class.
- Encourage children to read (or sing) along. If children can see the words in the book you're reading or they have their own copies, encourage them to read along. Singing is another component you can add to your storytelling strategy if the book you're reading is also a song or if it comes with a CD of related songs.
- Revise it (change the title, change the characters, etc.). Putting a new spin on a familiar story is a great way to recapture children's attention and spark their imagination!
- Personalize it (revise or dramatize it by using children's names instead of the characters' names or change the situation to match one that is currently happening). Making the story more personal and relevant to children by incorporating an event happening in the classroom or community can only enhance the storytelling and learning experience for children.
Another important part of storytelling is having a great selection of books on hand to read. Be sure to browse our selection of children's books for a variety of big books, read-along books, and other interesting reads!