TRC Read to Kids

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Monday, August 22, 2016

What's Your Story? Helping kids become storytellers

Reading books with kids is a good idea for so many reasons. Years of research show that reading aloud with kids daily is one of the most important activities that contributes to their reading success. Listening to books read aloud motivates kids and gives them models for fluency, boosts their comprehension, builds their vocabulary and background knowledge, and gives them the opportunity to wonder, ponder, and question ideas they might otherwise never encounter. But what about telling stories from life -- yours or theirs, past or present?

Image result for what's your story

Everyone has stories to share. It is important to help kids tell their own stories and to encourage parents to share their own family stories with their children. Hearing and telling stories about their family helps kids learn from the experiences of those closest to them and helps them better understand who they are and where they come from. These are the stories that kids will hold onto for a lifetime.

But kids often don’t know where to start when telling a story. Whether you are at a Read-Aloud or with kids in your own life, you can help them when you offer the following:

Share your own stories. Start with a book that has a theme everyone can relate to, such as Ally-saurus and the First Day of School by Richard Torrey or First Grade Jitters by Robert Quackenbush. Then tell a tale from your own back-to-school experiences. Get kids to help you compare your experience with the characters in the book, and then invite kids to share their own school stories.

Using objects to start kids on the road to storytelling. Choice Literacy has great ideas about kids using important objects to inspire personal narrative stories. Having something concrete to explain and describe creates purpose and direction for creating a story. If a kid struggles to get past the simple description of his object, ask him to talk about how he got it, who he was with and how he felt , in order to get him going.

One way to provide three-dimensional objects for the kids is to bring in a storytelling sack. To make a storytelling sack, get a fabric drawstring bag or a pillowcase. Fill the sack with small, interesting items — toy animals, LEGO figures, toy tools, craft items and other random objects. To start the storytelling, unpack the sack! 

Each person takes a turn removing one object at a time. The first person uses the object to start a story. As each kid removes an object, she uses it as her prompt to add to the story. Practicing making up and telling stories about random objects allows kids to develop their skills. You can also encourage kids to make their own sacks filled with personal items and then take turns telling stories that use some or all of the items in their sacks.  

When we hear each other’s stories, we can't help but care about each other. Show kids you care! Make time for conversations in which you show real interest in what kids are saying and ask substantive questions that lead to kids to share their stories and experiences. Talk about yourself and help them feel safe to share their own stories, happy or sad. The stories they have for you are a gift just waiting to be heard.

Guest blog post by Belle of the Book, Rachael Walker.

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