Do you find yourself making excuses to get out of bedtime stories? You’re tired, it’s past bedtime, there’s housework to do, and you need to make dinner… Sound familiar?
Is this true or are you making excuses because, deep down, you’re not sure you have the skills to make your bedtime stories extra-special? In truth, you’re not even sure how to read stories.
You’ll be surprised to hear that you’re not alone. Unless you’ve trained at drama school or are lucky enough to be naturally gifted, it’s quite normal to lack confidence in reading aloud to your children. Mastering silly voices and maintaining them for a whole story can test the best of us. It’s a skill that takes perseverance, patience and hours of practice – something your child will gladly give you! We’ve heard the same from our Storytime readers, and the good news is that we can help you.
Want to master the art of storytelling? Here are Storytime’s six top tips on how to read stories.
1.Get the Timing Right
We all experience being behind on housework, running out of time and feeling tired. It’s not that these problems aren’t real or valid, it’s just that if you allow them to, they can get in the way of sharing something really special with your child – the joy and magic of reading together. Sometimes, you just have to be strict with yourself. Give chores a cut-off point, put worries and tiredness to one side, and start reading. Then, make sure you stick to it. You’ll enjoy it so much; those worries will soon fade away. Most importantly, don’t read to your child when they’re too sleepy. Before bedtime is ideal, but not too close to lights-out time. If you can fit in a story session at another time, such as at breakfast, before lunch, or after school, go for it. But, whenever you choose to do it, make sure you’re fully in the moment. No smart phones or tablets allowed. And don’t rush the experience. This is the real trick to story magic – letting everything else wait.
2.Are You Sitting Comfortably?
Kids are super-powered. They can enjoy stories anywhere, but grown-ups need comfort. Nothing ruins the reading flow like a cricked neck or sore knees. Any old chair or sofa will do, as long as you’re in a position where you feel comfortable. This is supposed to be enjoyable for both you and your child, and reading while contorted isn’t conducive to a happy storytime. A word of warning: too much comfort can be a disaster if you’re extremely tired. Parents who’ve fallen asleep mid-sentence in a story will agree.
3.To Act or Not to Act?
Some storytellers revel in putting on character voices, and some hate it. Kids like it, but they won’t hold it against you if you don’t indulge them in an award-winning performance. Whatever your approach, kids will enjoy the fact that you’re reading to them and appreciate being transported to amazing places, inhabited by wonderful characters. If you can’t pull off accents and don’t feel in the mood for acting out the wicked witch, give it a miss. Just making your voice a little higher or deeper for different characters is often enough. But, the main thing is… you should tell stories in a way that you enjoy them too, instead of feeling pressure to perform.
Just because you can’t do the accents or voices, it doesn’t mean you can’t spruce up your stories with funny sound effects, by wearing a ridiculous hat or using comedy props. If you can’t let go and play the fool in front of your closest family, when can you? Don’t let feeling self-conscious stop you from reading bedtime stories to your child. Try one of the three things listed above and witness the joy and curiosity on your child’s face. Storytime is a time to put aside your inhibitions and have fun. Your child won’t judge you. They will adore your time together. They’ll ask for more! Plus, you’ll have shown them how entertaining and fun to be with you are – and all because of a story.
Do you yawn a lot when reading to your child? It’s weird… you felt fine before you sat down. You weren’t tired. You’re not bored. Yet, you can’t get through a sentence without yawning, and now you feel sleepy. That’s your brain literally gasping for air. You got so lost in reading aloud to your child, you forgot to breathe. It’s so easily done and, happily, easily resolved. When you feel a yawn coming, take a deep breath. It stops the yawn in its tracks, and you can carry on being the storytelling superstar.
6.Don’t Compare Yourself
Professional storytellers are a case apart. They hold a whole library – no, a whole world of stories – in their heads, and they’re amazing at sharing those stories. It’s what they do for a living. The same goes for actors, and you’ll find that many librarians are dab hands at telling stories too. It comes from a love of books. These people are leading experts in how to read stories and, under no circumstances, should you compare your abilities to theirs. Pick up some tips, pinch some of their ideas to use at home, fine, but the reason your child loves you reading to them is because it’s time with you. Any reading with your child, no matter how good or bad you are at it is better than no reading at all.
Follow these six tips and you’ll soon master how to read stories. It’s all achievable stuff and anyone can do it (especially the breathing bit). And the most crucial advice of all: enjoy it! Joy is infectious and the best way there is to encourage a love of reading in your child.
Happy reading to you all!
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Storytime Magazine · Storytime Magazine News
Storytime is a kids’ magazine full of great stories. It’s packed with fairy tales, myths, poems, and much more – all beautifully written and illustrated, with puzzles, games and colouring in too! There are no adverts, and each issue arrives in a special envelope, so children have the excitement of receiving their own post!