At home, I love it how my girls get as excited about books as I do. We can never go to bed at night without having Story Time. No way! They will run to our “quiet room” ( a room for just sitting, socializing or reading) and go through our mini-library to choose the books they want to read with either their Dad or myself. Sometimes, big sister B sits and reads with them too and they really *love* it!
My favourite part of the whole Story Time experience is how the girls sit one on each side of me and cuddle into me as closely as possible. They love to snuggle when we read books and so do I. Sometimes, I will even read an extra book just to keep them snuggled up to me for a few minutes longer.
Now, being a teacher, I always do Story Time the same way whether I’m reading to my students or my own children. Habit, I guess. I want to make sure they’re getting the most out of their reading experience.
So I’m dedicating this post to all of my Mommy friends and readers out there who read with their children on a daily basis. I want to share with you the steps I follow when reading with my girls. Keep in mind that my girls are 2 and 4 years old. I might vary what I do with older children but the framework remains the same.
I hope you find this helpful!
Making Story Time Meaningful
1. We look at the front cover of the book and we read the title of the story and the name of the author and illustrator. It’s important to point these things out to children. They need to know how a book works and understand that a book is written and illustrated by people who have names. We might talk about how you open a book, hold it and how you turn the pages, specifically how we go from left to right.
2. Before commencing our reading, I will always draw the girls attention to the front cover of the book and ask them to look at the illustration. I will then ask them to guess what the story inside the book might be about. The girls love to share their predictions and in doing this, I’m getting them thinking and wondering and igniting their imaginations.
2. I always use my finger to track the words when I read so that the girls know that each word I touch on the book represents a word I say aloud. By doing this, they will see that my finger goes from left to right and back again and repeats this pattern as I read. They will eventually learn that a letter represents a sound, a collection of letters represent a word and a collection of words represent a sentence, all of which are concepts of print.
3. While reading, I will always draw attention to the illustration on the page and ask the girls to point things out to me. Where is the kitten? Can you see the little mouse? By doing this, I’m showing the girls that the illustrations offer a lot of valuable information that we should also pay attention to. When kids begin reading themselves, the illustrations are often where the kids will look to for clues when unable to read a word. We teach this strategy in school. By encouraging them to engage in the books’ illustrations at a young age, we’re equipping them with a useful reading strategy that they will most definitely come to use over and over again once they begin learning how to read on their own.
4. At different places in the book, I will often stop reading and half-way close the book. I will then ask my girls a few questions like, ” What do you think will happen next? Will Bear find his way home or be lost forever? What would you do if you were Bear and were lost?”. By asking these types of questions, I’m inviting the girls to engage and connect with the characters and to relate to them by drawing on their own personal experiences. It’s amazing how much learning we do as people simply by relating to things based on our own personal experiences. By asking children questions, we are better able to assess their overall understanding.
5. Once we’ve finished reading our story, I will usually encourage the girls to share with me their favourite parts. Each of us will take turns sharing our thoughts. I sometimes will ask them to re-tell what happened in the story along with listing me the names of the characters. My 4 year-old *loves* re-telling any story in her own words. This gets everyone talking about the book so that I’m able to see just how much each of the girls understood the story’s main elements.
6. Before we move on to our next story, I always ask the girls to rate the book according to how much they like or disliked it. Two thumbs up means they loved it. Two thumbs down means they didn’t like it. Two thumbs turned side-ways towards each other means the book was just “okay”. I think it’s important for children to voice their opinions about books they read and it also provides me with a better idea of the types of books I should be looking to buy or borrow from the library. We always need more books!
If we’re reading a story during the day, I may ask the girls to draw me a picture of their favourite part of a story once we’re done reading. They love doing this and it gets them using words we’ve learned from reading.
This Mama will do anything to turn an activity into an educational experience.
It’s a gift, I know.
Or maybe, it’s just the teacher in me that never goes away:)